SHARJAH - The next time you place your kid on one of the coin-operated toys outside your neighbourhood supermarket, you might want to check if they are clean.
Coin-operated toy cars, horses and child-friendly figures are a popular sight outside several supermarkets in Sharjah. But recently, many parents have complained of these toys being unhygienic and unclean for their children to sit on.
Pakistani national and IT professional Naveed Abid has been living in Sharjah for the last four years. He has a two-year-old daughter who loves to play on these toys. “These coin-operated machines are found everywhere. But all of them are poorly maintained. They are filthy, dusty and many of them have some rusted parts as well,” said Abid.
He added: “My daughter insists that she wants to play on these toys every time we go to the supermarket. I don’t want her to throw tantrums so I allow her to play on them. It’s for kids, these toys must be maintained hygienically.” Abid stated that with small babies, hygiene must be a top priority, or there is a risk of the baby falling sick with a stomach disease.
An employee at Al Madinatain Supermarket, Qasimia Street in Sharjah, said that these toys are the sole responsibility of the company that owns them and the supermarket management has nothing to do with it. “The employees from some of these toy companies turn up once every few months and clean up the machines,” he said.
According to Arwa Toys, which owns close to 1,200 coin-operated machines in Sharjah, employees who are responsible for maintaining these toys slack off sometimes.
Section manager of Arwa Toys Sayed Nechooli said: “The maintenance, collection and cleaning is another department’s responsibility. We have not received any complaints from people so far, but now since we have been notified, we will look into the matter.” He added that Arwa toys have been in the UAE since 2002 and the firm also deals with automatic popcorn and candy vending machines, video games and other games for kids.
Another parent and Indian national Devi Niven suggested that supermarket management should take up some initiative in cleaning up these toys. “Since they are placed outside these supermarkets, it’s best that they take some effort to clean them up. They are equally responsible for the upkeep of these toys.”