Singapore—When we speak up, things get done. This is the takeaway lesson to be learned from one man’s experience when he spoke up after finding no soap dispensers at the men’s bathrooms at the Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre, especially at a time when hand hygiene is of prime importance, given the current novel coronavirus outbreak.
Additionally, the netizen pointed out that the hawker center was charging $0.20 for the use of the toilet facilities, which made the lack of soap even more surprising.
The man, who told his story to crowdsourced news outlet Stomp, said that he went to the hawker centre at Block 20 Ghim Moh Road sometime in February.
He told Stomp, ”You have to pay $0.20 to use the toilet but there were no soap dispensers inside.
I feel very disappointed during this critical period.”
The netizen provided Stomp with a picture of a sign inside the bathroom, located over a urinal, that said that the dispenser for hand soap was outside. But when he checked, there were no soap dispensers to be found.
A spokesman from the National Environment Agency (NEA) told Stomp that it is mandatory for public toilets to have amenities for basic hygiene. The agency does regular checks on public restroom facilities to make sure that these requirements are met.
“Operators of public toilets are legally required to equip public toilets with basic amenities such as an adequate supply of liquid soap, toilet paper, hand dryers or paper towels and litter bins, and maintain them in good working order at all times.”
However, when the NEA inspected this particular toilet on February 26, it found that there was no soap dispenser in the male toilet of the hawker centre. The agency therefore asked the town council to reinstall the soap dispensers.
“We have since asked the town council to re-install the dispensers in the toilet, and reminded them of the requirement to ensure an adequate supply of liquid soap for the public’s use in the toilets at all times.”
The agency added, however, that for the sinks outside the toilets, soap dispensers are removed nightly “to prevent misuse.”
A Reuters report published on Friday (Mar 6) showed that men wash their hands less frequently than women after using the bathroom. According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “only 31% of men and 65% of women washed their hands” after using a public toilet.
After Sathnam Sanghera, a writer in the UK, tweeted that “grown,” “educated” men in the British Library bathrooms do not wash their hands, the library put up more signs to remind people to do so.
A spokesperson for the library told Reuters, “we have increased further the number of posters in public toilets, so that visitors are reminded of the importance of good hygiene at exactly the point where they can wash their hands.”
Other studies bear witness to men washing hands less than women do, although the Reuters article cites a public relations executive as saying that since the Covid-19 outbreak began, he has seen more men practicing good hand hygiene. —/TISG