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Washroom woes at Tawau, Kota Kinabalu airports
Published on: Wednesday, May 18, 2022
By: Sidney Skinner
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The contractor’s worker holds up a faulty component servicing the water tank at the top of the Tawau Airport.
The management of the airports in Tawau and Kota Kinabalu will step up efforts to maintain the toilets here given the growing volume of passenger-traffic at both properties.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) spokesmen said the respective contractors would be instructed to increase the frequency with which the toilets were cleaned.

“Our staff will make regular inspections to verify that the toilets and taps operate as they should,” they said

“The faucets and bowls will be checked to determine that they are not leaking. 

The janitor for this toilet at the Tawau Airport cleaning the mirror and area around the sink.

“The same will be done for the stalls to make sure that the doors are properly hinged and can be securely latched.”

A spokesman for the Tawau Airport (TA) said there were 14 sets of toilets inside the building, while his counterpart in the State Capital said the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) had 35 sets of these amenities. 

They admitted that the number of passengers moving through the airports had doubled since the interstate and international borders for the country had reopened.

“Our janitorial staff are facing an uphill task keeping up with the thousands who use the airports daily.”

Both spokesmen were responding to a traveller’s feedback about the poor condition of the toilets in the departure hall at KKIA and the arrival hall in Tawau.

She was dismayed to find that she could not flush the toilet she used at the latter.

One of the technicians puts his back into repairing the damage inside the water tank.

To make matters worse, she had to scoop water from a container to wash her hands afterwards as the taps at the sink had run dry.

She wanted to know how MAHB justified collecting an airport tax when these amenities were not being properly attended to.

The passenger provided Hotline with the date when she flew from the State Capital to Tawau. 

This information was forwarded to the management of the respective airports.

The TA spokesman said the water tank on the top of the building was found to be damaged at the time.

He said the pressure of the supply in the airport was severely impacted because of this.

“Not a drop of water was reaching the toilets on the first floor while only a trickle was available at those on the ground floor,” he said.

“Our technicians set about repairing the tank shortly after we became aware of the damage.”

Checks are frequently made of the toilet stalls at the KKIA to ensure that the doors can be properly latched.

When asked how often maintenance was carried out on this receptacle, he said this was done as and when it became necessary to do so.

While waiting for the repairs to be completed, drums of water were temporarily placed inside the toilets, according to him.

The spokesman explained that the airport had 22 janitorial staff who worked were split into two shifts to look after these amenities.

“One cleaner is stationed at each of the men’s and women’s toilets in the critical areas of the airport.

“These are places which are accessed by both passengers as well as the public.”

When it came to the departure and arrival halls, he said a janitor was assigned to look after a pair of toilets in these areas.

“These amenities are cleaned, on and off, throughout the day especially after a flight has landed and the passengers have been cleared from the airport.”

NELLA, who flew from the State Capital to Tawau, bemoaned the foul smell in the women’s toilets at the KKIA.

“I almost fell while walking from the stalls to the wash basins because there was water all over the floor,” she said.

The dissatisfaction she felt for the sorry state of these amenities was compounded once she reached the TA.

“The ladies, inside the toilets I used, grumbled that none of the flushes worked and that they could not wash their hands at any of the sinks.

“We had to queue to get to the container of water at one section of the toilet.”

She said the line was so long that some of the women gave up and left. 

A cleaner attends to a urinal inside one of the toilets at the KKIA.


Nella said the poor condition of the toilets made her wonder about of the standards of hygiene practised by the company looking after the airports.

“I hope the management makes it a priority to ensure that the toilets are kept spick and span at all times so that first time visitors to Sabah don’t get a negative impression of the State.”

A KKIA spokesman said the toilets, which the passenger was likely to have entered, were among the most heavily used inside the building.

“A check of our records reveals that we received a total of 18,000 passengers on the day she caught her flight,” he said.

“This number went up by 50 per cent two days later.”

He described these figures as being “higher than usual” for the airport, at the time, and said the rise was indicative of the sizeable pre-festive season traffic.

On average, some 14,000 passengers generally moved through the KKIA under normal circumstances, according to him. 

“In view of their almost non-stop use, we have asked the contractor to look into revising the cleaning schedule for the toilets.

“If need be, we might close them every 30, or 45, minutes to allow them to be attended to properly.” 

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