As one of many Singaporeans who frequently dine at hawker centres, I find that the cleanliness of a hawker centre plays a large part in creating a pleasant dining experience for everyone.
Hence, the tray-return initiative by the National Environment Agency goes a long way in helping cleaners maintain the cleanliness of our hawker centres.
However, over numerous visits, I have observed that there are hiccups in the initiative where the cleaners themselves are not well briefed, and are telling customers who are returning the trays that doing this actually creates more work for them.
For example, I was recently stopped by a cleaner from returning my tray with dirty dishes and rudely told off for doing so.
Later, at another hawker centre, I witnessed a cleaner telling a customer that returning trays would make cleaning up more difficult, compared with just leaving the dishes on the table.
I've also noticed that racks for returned trays are often full; they are not promptly cleared to make way for more trays.
The tray-return scheme is a good initiative, but cleaners need to be briefed about the scheme, and an effective system has to be put in place, such that returning trays will be a great help, rather than a hindrance, to cleaners' work in keeping our hawker centres clean.
Philip Foong Soon Fatt
This article was first published on July 14, 2015.
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