Feng Zengkun – Straits Times Indonesia
It is an all too familiar experience that gets right up coffee shop customers’ noses.
After finishing their meal, they nip to the lavatory – only to find it filthy or overflowing.
Now, tighter requirements could be introduced to deal with the problem after the National Environment Agency announced plans to review its code of practice. A panel including stall owners, architects and coffee shop operators will be set up by the end of the year. The aim is to look into minimum hygiene requirements, such as the number of taps, soap dispensers and ventilation systems.
Coffee shops have consistently ranked as having the worst restrooms in surveys. Only 52 of the 1,300 here are accredited under the Happy Toilet rating scheme.
The review was announced yesterday at the second annual Loo – short for Let’s Observe Ourselves – Awards ceremony, which honors clean lavatories. It is part of a three-pronged strategy, said National Environment Agency chief Andrew Tan.
The two other prongs are introducing more education materials to improve toilet-users’ habits, and getting food centre operators to hire only cleaners accredited by the agency. ‘We are talking to the big food operators and hope they will provide a good example,’ said Tan.
He said another possibility was creating a two-tier inspection system. For example, the best lavatories could be inspected less often, leaving the agency free to concentrate on the rest.
A team of students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic is also carrying out a survey of at least 500 toilet users over the next four months. The project, which has been rubber stamped by the Restroom Association of Singapore, aims to find out why people leave lavatories dirty and what would encourage them to clean up their habits.
Asked how the team will interview toilet users who may not admit to bad behavior, third-year business student Poh Si Lian said: “We’ll phrase the questions differently. For example, instead of saying ‘Have you ever’, we’ll ask ‘Have you ever heard of?’”
The upcoming panel is not the first to try to tackle the problem of dirty toilets. In September, a Public Hygiene Council, which included representatives from schools and restroom associations, said it would make coffee shop toilets a priority.
Tan said the fact that this council is focused on cleanliness as a whole means it will not duplicate the work of the new panel, which is looking only at the code of practice.
Sixteen awards were given out at yesterday’s ceremony, including to schools, cleaners and for the best Happy Toilets. Alexandra Hospital’s “Zoo Toilet” – which incorporates greenery and trees – won the Best Happy Toilet of the Year award.
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to Straits Times Indonesia and/or the Jakarta Globe call 021 2553 5055.