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Traveller raises complaints regarding “eternal closure” of washroom for people with physical disabilities, “confrontational cleaners” at Woodlands Checkpoint

A reader has contacted The Online Citizen regarding the “eternal closure” of a washroom for persons with physical disabilities at the Woodlands Checkpoint after receiving what appears to him as unsatisfactory feedback from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers.

In an email to the ICA, he specified that “the toilet situated next to the bus queues (for SBSTransit Services 160, 170, 170X and Causeway Link buses) on the ground floor right after immigration clearance (heading in the direction towards JB)”. 

According to the reader’s submission, he had “hastily dashed into the handicapped toilet due to an urgent call of nature” at around 2pm on 29 June this year.

“Unsurprisingly,” he said, “there was a “Wet Floor/Toilet Being Cleaned” sign strategically blocking the entrance to the handicapped toilet (as is omnipresent during all waking hours it seems).”

Upon leaving the toilet, he alleged that “a Malay man with sunglasses in a white polo shirt” had “rudely” chastised him in a language that was “unintelligible” to him, which he had assumed to be the Malay language, “in a confrontational and aggressive” manner.

He alleged that the man was hired by the ICA and expressed disbelief that “a public agency such as ICA” would “actually resort to hiring foreign hooligans who are incapable of communicating in basic English while not thinking twice about blocking (and chastising those who use) these toilets”.

He also added that “the deliberate placing of a “wet floor/toilet cleaning in progress” sign in front of the washroom for persons with physical disabilities is not a one-off, isolated incident”, and that the sign is perpetually present in front of that particular washroom.

The ICA responded to him on 3 July with a request for the complainant’s particulars, that is, his full name and identification number, in order to ease the process of investigating the matter.

Additionally, the ICA requested that the complainant leave them his phone number in order for them to obtain further clarification when required.

The reader furnished the ICA with his contact number on 6 July.

However, he added that “if you are telling me you are incapable or refuse to investigate this because I refuse to provide you with my full name and NRIC, please confirm this in writing”, further elaborating that he will otherwise resort to bringing attention to this matter to the public through online news platforms.

The ICA responded on the same day, reassuring the complainant that it is his prerogative to maintain his anonymity.

However, the ICA believes that particulars provided by the complainant will assist their investigation into the matter at hand, adding that all personal information will be treated as private and confidential, only to be used in ways that are directly relevant to their investigation.

The ICA also mentioned that the designated unit has been actively looking into the matter.

The reader was nonetheless dissatisfied with the fact that his personal particulars are required in order for the ICA to give a conclusive answer regarding what he suggests to be a simple matter as the apparent permanent blocking of a public restroom.

On 16 July, the ICA replied that more time is needed for them to investigate the claims, as the reader refused to provide them with his particulars as they have requested.

They also explained that they have searched through all of their records and interviewed workers on duty, one of whom reported an “altercation” with an able-bodied man in his 30s or 40s who was dressed in a white T-shirt and white quarter-length trousers regarding the usage of the washroom that was designated towards the physically-challenged.

It was reported that the traveller seemed upset and reacted rudely towards the worker, which has been confirmed by the ICA’s investigations.

In reference to the “eternal closure” of the washrooms for persons with physical disabilities, the ICA found it puzzling that the complainant would take notice of that, as they consider that most travellers usually spend only a short amount of time at the Checkpoint, merely to clear immigration for the most part.

The ICA also explained that based on their investigation, the cleaner’s purpose of placing the “Wet Floor” signage at the entrance of the toilet for the physically-challenged after cleaning it is to serve as a visual warning for the relevant users to be careful.

Adding to their statement, the ICA reminded the complainant that the public toilets for able-bodied checkpoint users are located only several steps away from the toilet that was designated for the physically-challenged.

The reader responded that “it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how a “Wet Floor” signage at the entrance for the handicapped toilet could be placed there for extended periods”, and that all that needs to be done “to corroborate this episode is to drop by at the toilet regularly during daylight hours”.

He also alleged that the ICA has not contacted him at the number he has provided them previously, suggesting that asking for his particulars was “a smokescreen” on their part.

The reader also raised a question to the ICA: “If travellers spend only a transient time at checkpoints, why not do away with the toilets altogether since that would not be necessary at all?”

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