We agree with World Toilet Organisation founder Jack Sim that cleanliness of toilets in hawker centres and coffee shops requires improvement (Cleanliness of hawker centre toilets needs to be improved, Jan 2).
Public toilets that are well-designed, well-maintained and responsibly used are clean toilets which all users can enjoy.
Well-designed toilets make maintenance easier, can shape user behaviour, and help keep toilets clean. The National Environment Agency's (NEA) Code of Practice on Environmental Health contains information on the essential design criteria of public toilets that best meet environmental public health requirements.
In October last year, we launched a Toilet Improvement Programme (TIP) to help co-fund up to 90 per cent of improvement works to toilets in coffee shops and hawker centres.
Good maintenance is also essential to public toilet cleanliness. To maintain high public toilet hygiene standards, NEA has continually engaged stakeholders to adopt good practices through circulars, as well as sanitation and hygiene advisories.
Under TIP, NEA will subsidise coffee shop operators to put in place a contract for fortnightly deep cleaning of the toilets for the first year after renovation. Additionally, enforcement action is taken for lapses in public toilet cleanliness, and penalties for such lapses have been enhanced from April 1 last year. For instance, public toilet operators can be fined up to $400 on the first offence for failing to provide basic amenities such as liquid hand soap or toilet paper.
As we step up efforts to support infrastructural improvements and good maintenance of toilets in coffee shops and hawker centres, there must also be responsible toilet usage on the part of patrons and stallholders.
As part of the SG Clean campaign, the Public Toilet Cleanliness initiative was rolled out last year through various publicity channels and public touchpoints in selected transport hubs and hawker centre toilets to encourage users to keep toilets clean.
Maintaining the cleanliness of public spaces, including toilets, is a collective responsibility. Clean toilets reflect who we are as a society, and help improve public health and hygiene. Every stakeholder, including the user, can take ownership to raise the cleanliness and hygiene standards of public toilets in Singapore.
Chew Ming Fai
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
(Public Health) and Director-General of Public Health
National Environment Agency