Monthlong trash collector strike puts South African city on alert for rats

Authorities in South Africa's biggest city have asked residents to be on the alert for rats, which are thriving because of a four-week strike by garbage collectors pressing for a salary increase.

Thousands of garbage collectors in Johannesburg have been on strike since March 9. Some downtown streets resemble a dumping site, with pedestrians stepping over piles of refuse. Motorists battled for alternative routes as some roads became impassable.

The African News Agency on Monday quoted a provincial health official as saying residents should organize their own garbage collection to stop rats from breeding.

The city has introduced a round-the-clock "hotline" telephone number for residents who need cleaning tools, gloves and waste disposal bags.