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Vendor claims Micronesia Mall ignored his reports of cockroach infestation – Pacific News Center

Chef Kotwal Singh’s business “Kabob and Curry” takes a hit with the four day closure, despite allegedly reporting Micronesia Mall’s cockroach infestation since January.

Guam – There’s a cockroach infestation at Micronesia Mall, but who’s to blame? Chef Kotwal Singh from Kebab and Curry claims Micronesia Mall knew all about the infestation since January, but did nothing.

“I noticed roaches six months ago – eight months, I went to the (Micronesia Mall management) office, and told them we have a problem. I talked specifically with their pest control and said, ‘Hey we have a problem,’” says Singh.

He says he’s been pestering Micronesia Mall management for months now, but nothing’s changed.

“I’m not after the mall, in a big mall, things happen. Cockroaches go everywhere, but prevention is important,” the chef noted.

The chef says his complaints were largely ignored, that is, until the pest problem multiplied.

“Somebody complained that there was actually one of those critters in their food,” explains Public Health Director Jim Gillan.

After that horrifying complaint was reported last Friday, Director Gillan says Public Health immediately shut down seven restaurants, citing a roach infestation. But one of those vendors, unfortunately, belonged to Chef Singh. His restaurant has been closed for the last four days.

For Chef Singh, his restaurant “Kebab and Curry” at Micronesia Mall is his livelihood. Singh says he takes pride and rightful ownership of every occurrence at his food station, but because his curry stand is in such close proximity to the infestation, his business took a hit.

“The worst thing is I have a lot of product for the weekend. I bought a lot of vegetables, meat, and I cannot use it. Almost $2,500 worth of food I threw in the trash. That’s my cost. I’m not talking about the details–that should be four times more,” he said.

On top of that, Singh has to routinely cover water, power, rent space, and employees’ wages. With revenue lost from peak days of business, Singh says they’ve suffered from the abrupt closure.

And it’s not just revenue that he’s lost. For Singh, the family business reputation is on the line.

“I’m upset about two things: one Micronesia Mall didn’t listen to me when I told them first take care of business and take care of me. I pay rent. They just say, ‘It’s okay anyway, he’s not a big boy, he’s not going to sue, he’s not going to do anything.’ Now, they closed seven or eight businesses. The mall lost a lot of money. I lost a lot of money. We lost a lot of reputation. Why? Because of Public Health,” he lamented.

According to Singh, the last time Public Health visited Micronesia Mall was six years ago. Director Gillan acknowledged the inconsistencies in conducting routine inspections but he adds this is largely due to a shortage of staff.

“Our challenge is even though food safety is our priority; we can’t be everywhere all the time. So, we’re reactive. We count on people complaining,” Gillan explained.

Currently, there are 24 Environmental Health Officers. He says, realistically, they need about 70.

“It’s almost like playing Russian Roulette. We kinda just hope that everybody is doing the right thing, but I guarantee you if we walked into a restaurant right now, we would probably close them,” he said.

But when government agencies are admittedly reactive instead of proactive, small businesses like Chef Singh’s takes the fall.

“That’s not my problem, that’s their problem,” the Chef retorted, adding, “Put yourself in my shoes. If you’re a business owner, a small business owner, and you close for four days, what do you feel about that?”

Chef Singh says he spoke with Micronesia Mall management this morning and they reassured him that they will take the necessary steps to address the roach infestation plaguing the mall.

He told PNC that his business could reopen as early as tomorrow; it’s all incumbent upon Public Health at this point.

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