New rules to improve public loo experience

New rules to improve public loo experience
Alexandra Hospital's well-ventilated Zoo Toilet (above) won the "Happy Toilet of the Year" award at the conference - one of 20 individuals and organisations to win accolades for their commitment to keeping toilets clean.

Your visit to a public toilet here will be a more pleasant experience after June next year.

Female users can expect shorter queues as proportionately more toilets will be set aside for them. There will also be diaper changing stations for parents with young children.

This is because of new design guidelines from the National Environment Agency (NEA), unveiled on the inaugural World Toilet Day on Monday, to ensure that public toilets are cleaner, more convenient, and more inclusive to benefit women, the elderly and parents with young children.

The guidelines under the Code of Practice on Environmental Health were announced by Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu, who was speaking at the inaugural Wash (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Conference.

The ratio of female to male toilets will be increased from 1:1 to 5:3 in public areas with heavy usage, such as shopping malls and MRT stations.

The guidelines call for better hygiene, including placing amenities like soap and towel dispensers near wash basins.

They will be made mandatory from next June in all new public toilets and those in premises undergoing major renovation. The code was last revised in 2005.

"Good design is important because it helps us to improve the way that we use the toilet, and also how we would clean (it)," said Ms Fu on the sidelines of the conference.

Toilets will also be more inclusive, Ms Fu told reporters, with the installation of features like grab bars for the elderly.

Diaper changing stations - the lack of which has long been a bugbear of parents with young children - will also be installed in toilets at places like shopping malls and hawker centres.

Mrs Christine Tan, 35, who has a one-year-old son, welcomed the new guidelines. "It's about time. I worry about how and where I'm going to change my son when I'm out," she said.

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