LCQ9: Public toilet services

     Following is a question by the Hon Kam Nai-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (April 13):


     It has been learnt that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) manages over 560 public toilets and more than 280 aqua privies at present. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the existing number of public toilets at which attendants are stationed to provide cleansing services, together with a breakdown by region (Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories); why attendants are not stationed at some public toilets;

(b) of the number of complaints about poor hygiene conditions in public toilets received by the authorities in each of the past three years; whether they have any plan to increase the frequency of cleansing work for public toilets each day; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) of the performance pledge made by FEHD in respect of its cleansing work for public toilets; of the respective numbers of service contractors to which FEHD had issued warnings and on which FEHD had imposed fines in each of the past three years because the standard of their services had fallen short of the pledge, as well as the total number of warnings and total amount of fines involved; and

(d) whether FEHD has conducted any survey on the views of users on the hygiene conditions of public toilets since the dissolution of the two municipal councils in 2000; if it has, of the outcome of the latest survey; if not, whether it will conduct such surveys on a regular basis?



     One of the major responsibilities of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) is to provide quality environmental hygiene services and facilities. In response to the rising expectations of the community over public toilets, FEHD is committed to enhancing the hygiene, convenience, safety and comfort of these facilities. Generally speaking, public toilets are provided with hand dryers, soap dispensers, electronic sensor-activated taps and baby changing counters, etc. FEHD manages over 840 public toilets and aqua privies. To continue to improve the quality of public toilet services, FEHD, apart from implementing a phased programme to convert aqua privies into flushing toilets, also launches an annual refurbishment programme for public toilets. The conversion of all aqua privies is expected to be completed in late 2013 at a capital cost of about $990 million. The refurbishment costs for public toilets over the past three years were around $110 million. My reply to the questions is set out below.

(a) At present, public toilets with high usage or those located at major tourist spots are provided with toilet attendants. There is a total of 268 public toilets with toilet attendants in the territory. Details are as follows:

                Number of public toilets with
                     toilet attendants
Hong Kong and                97
outlying islands
Kowloon                      60
New Territories             111
Total                       268

     Toilet attendants are mainly responsible for keeping the toilets clean and dry and in a hygienic condition at all times, and ensuring adequate provision of supplies including toilet paper and liquid soap, etc.  

(b) In the last three years, the number of complaints about uncleanliness of public toilets received by FEHD is as follows:

                       2008     2009     2010
Number of complaints   796      964      922

     The cleansing frequency of public toilets is determined by public demand and usage of the toilets, varying from two to three times per day. Where necessary, toilet attendants are provided to ensure the cleanliness and hygiene condition of the toilets. To facilitate the public to give their views, notices providing hotline numbers are posted inside the toilets.  Co-operation of the public is also of vital importance. Hence, notices appealing for the public's assistance to keep the public toilets clean and hygienic are also posted inside the toilets.

(c) FEHD's performance pledges on public toilet services include the following:

(i) to effect minor repairs within 24 hours of reporting;

(ii) to thoroughly cleanse public toilets at least twice daily; and

(iii) to upkeep the cleanliness of public toilets by providing toilet attendants for public toilets with high usage.

     FEHD staff inspect public toilets regularly to ensure that the contractors provide services in accordance with the requirements of the contracts. In the last three years, the number of warnings issued to contractors by FEHD for unsatisfactory services and the amount of payment deducted are provided at Annex.

(d) FEHD conducted three surveys between 2004 and 2008 to collect public views on public toilets and data on the utilisation of public toilets. According to the survey in 2008, 71% of the respondents were satisfied with the public toilet services provided by FEHD while only 3% were not satisfied. FEHD will carry out extension and refurbishment works for public toilets with higher usage rates, and keep the public toilet services under review.

Ends/Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:55