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Probe into toilet management

Local | Stella Wong May 16, 2019
<p>Public toilets were described as dilapidated as the Office of the Ombudsman launched a direct investigation into the government&#39;s management of the facilities.</p><p>It is one of the two direct investigations the watchdog announced yesterday.</p><p>It said some public toilets have substandard hygienic conditions or are dilapidated, and damaged facilities often take a long time to repair.</p><p>&quot;These situations have not only caused inconvenience to the public, but also affected tourists&#39; impressions of Hong Kong,&quot; it added.</p><p>The watchdog said about 800 public toilets in the city are managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.</p><p>The department&#39;s outsourced contractors are responsible for daily cleaning and minor repairs, while large-scale repair and maintenance work is usually handled by the Architectural Services Department.</p><p>The FEHD also makes recommendations to the ASD annually on toilet renovations.</p><p>The investigation into the FEHD&#39;s work comes after Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced that HK$600 million would be allocated to refurbishing or improving public toilets over the next five years.</p><p>The project will also improve ventilation and toilet facilities to enhance cleanliness and hygiene.</p><p>In April, the FEHD announced it will install various facilities according to the condition of individual toilets, including sensor-activated taps and flushing facilities, along with electric and blower fans to keep the floor dry.</p><p>It is also exploring the possibility of installing air-conditioning systems and dehumidifiers, and providing hand-washing basins, soap dispensers and hand dryers in the form of a Cabinet Wash Hand Basin System to alleviate the odor and wet floor problem.</p><p>Apart from public toilets, the watchdog has also launched a direct investigation into the FEHD&#39;s monitoring of outsourced street cleaning services.</p><p>It said the services are provided by the department via contractors hired through a tendering mechanism, but there has been criticism that the &quot;lowest bid wins&quot; principle has led to poor services.</p><p>Ombudsman Winnie Chiu Wai-yin said the watchdog hopes to examine the government&#39;s mechanisms and practices on the issues, and make recommendations on improvements. &quot;The cleanliness of streets and the hygiene conditions of public toilets are closely related to our daily lives. They also have an impact on the reputation of Hong Kong as a world city,&quot; she said.</p><p>Chiu called on the public to submit their views to the Office of the Ombudsman by June 16.</p><p>stellast.wong@singtaonewscorp.com</p>


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