Tuesday, December 1, 2015   

Just a wee bit longer

Phila Siu

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Ladies, relief is in sight from long queues and having to cross your legs outside crowded toilets.

Assuming that legislators do not block the way, a proposal by the Development Bureau will see the ratio of female to male toilets increase to 1.5 to one at many shopping venues and places of entertainment.

In recent years, the inadequate provision of female toilets in public places evidenced by the long waiting time and the queues often found outside these toilets has become a matter of increasing public concern, a spokesman for the bureau said.

Under the envisaged ratio, planners expect that water closets for females will be increased by 60 percent in shopping arcades, 160 percent in cinemas and 150 percent in places of public entertainment.

For example, as things stand now you can expect two urinals and one water closet in a male toilet and two water closets in a female toilet for a theater packed with 300 people. Under the amended ratio, the number of urinals and water closets in male toilets will be unchanged but there will be four water closets for females.

The amendments were proposed after the bureau reviewed surveys of toilets in various places, looking at levels of usage, queuing time and user satisfaction.

Key findings are that 56 percent of female shoppers have to wait in a queue before they make it to the toilet while only 12 percent of men are delayed on the way to finding relief.

Many women often have to wait for about 18 minutes during weekends, said the bureaus spokesman.

He added: Some of my friends have had to wait for 30 minutes, and waiting for such a long time does not seem civilized or acceptable.

He also noted that the dissatisfaction rate among female toilet users ranges between 11 and 35 percent for toilets in different premises.

That rate should fall to around 10 percent if the plans go through, he added.

But the new approach to relief will only apply to new premises and those undergoing large-scale renovation.

And while the proposal will soon be tabled at the Legislative Council, it could take up to two years to see the amendment passed.

But the bureaus spokesman is sure the plan will not face a blockage.

For the government issued guidelines in 2005 suggesting a female- male toilet ratio of 1.2 to one, which was agreeable to developers.

And more than 100 developments since then have followed that guideline.

Among those welcoming the news is Lui Kit-ling, who chairs the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions Women Affairs Committee.

Sometimes, Lui said, shes had to queue for half an hour for a toilet.

And looking across the border makes Lui shudder.

Sometimes women have to use the male toilet in the mainland, where the queues outside female toilets are even longer.

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