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Saturday, Oct 31, 2020

Out in 90 seconds: female urinals will halve peeing time for women, says Hong Kong Toilet Association

The group says urinals, rather than new cubicles, are the answer to cutting the perennially long queues outside women’s washrooms. However, it says there’s a lack of interest by builders to conduct a pilot test of the proposal
An industry group on Thursday called for female urinals to be built in Hong Kong’s public toilets to help the city combat the long waiting times faced by women to access a loo.

According to the Hong Kong Toilet Association, such facilities would cut peeing time to just 1.5 minutes, compared with the usual two to three minutes, and thus help to shorten queues outside women’s washrooms.

Urinals would also take up only half the space of a full cubicle, the group said, adding that the facilities could include disposable paper urine funnels to help women aim accurately, and a shelf above for bags to be hung.

“It is much more feasible to install additional female urinals than to build new cubicles, especially in smaller and older public toilets,” said the group’s vice-president Henry Hung Chi Kuen, who has a 40-year career in plumbing engineering.

However, Hung said there was a lack of interest by universities to design such a facility, and the group was also struggling to find organisations, such as event organisers, willing to conduct a pilot test of female urinals in the city.

In Germany and France, female urinals are available in temporary lavatories at events such as music festivals, but not in permanent facilities, the association said.

The association’s recommendation on Thursday came a week after the Audit Commission released a report saying that the city’s public toilets fell short of the government’s guidelines intended to ensure that for every public toilet compartment for men, there should be two for women. The ratio was instead found to be 1-1.3.

The commission’s report also found that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department was not repairing defects in public restrooms quickly enough.

In February, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po had announced a HK$600 million (US$76.5 million) plan to revamp 240 public loos, about one-third of the city’s toilets, over five years.

To date, only 48 public washrooms have been renovated, a statistic slammed by the toilet association.

“At this rate, it would take 16 years to upgrade all of the toilets in the city. I hope we can speed up the process for all public toilets to a timeline of five years,” Hung said.

The toilet association – which includes plumbers, engineers and sanitary goods distributors – recently completed an inspection on 160 public washrooms across the city which found unsanitary levels of hygiene at some locations.

The dirtiest toilet was found to be at Pei Ho Street Market in Sham Shui Po, where the floor was slippery and had a strong odour caused by a blocked flushing system, Hung said.

The group used a “CASH” criterion – a mnemonic which stands for “Comfort, Accessibility, Safety and Hygiene” – to carry out its inspection.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said public toilet renovations were ongoing, and not all of them required the same level of work, such as newly built ones.

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