Hong Kong's public toilets in an awful state despite hygiene department's claims that they are clean

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 October, 2015, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 October, 2015, 4:52pm

Many of Hong Kong's public toilets resemble the kind of facilities you would find in the third world, with some having mould, faeces, broken toilets and a disgusting smell.

This is despite the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department claiming they are well maintained. The department manages 769 public toilets, including at popular tourist spots and busy areas, such as ferry concourses, bus terminuses and picnic areas.

The department's Toilet Services Performance report for 2015 said it tried to effect minor repairs within 24 hours of reporting. The target was 95 per cent, but it achieved 100 per cent. My inspections of these toilets reveal that repair problems are often not fixed.

The report also claims that the target of 95 per cent to clean all toilets at least twice daily was being surpassed and hitting 100 per cent. I estimate it is closer to 20 per cent.

I tried to contact the director of food and environmental hygiene for her comment. I also invited her to meet me at some of the facilities to see first hand, but I received no reply. My correspondence was passed on to the "1823" department.

Eventually a department representative wrote back and said, "One of the missions of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is to provide the public with a clean environment.

"We are very concerned about the cleanliness of the public toilets under our management and send our staff to inspect these facilities daily. If any unsatisfactory condition is detected, we will take remedial action promptly and maintain the cleanliness of the public toilets."

Questions have to be asked of the director.

Exactly how is the HK$6 billion of taxpayers' money (which is the department's budget) being used?

How much of it is used to maintain and upgrade our public toilet facilities?

If department staff are inspecting toilets on a daily basis, why are the facilities not in a clean and well-maintained manner, but instead in the state I described?

There appear to be no quality assurance procedures in place, to either manage reporting procedures, or manage performance of department staff.

An external independent consultant should be appointed to inspect and report on the condition of the facilities and organise any repairs or upgrades needed. This may require the department to take on a quality assurance programme, so all aspects of reporting / repairs / cleaning and staff performance can be monitored.

David Clarke, Mid-Levels