Despite being a megacity, Ho Chi Minh City has a mere 200 public restrooms, while the city is ranked 67th among 69 tourism cities with poor public toilet systems.
The enormity of the toilet shortage is 'unacceptable,' said Ho Chi Minh City chairman Phan Van Mai.
District 1 has only 18 public toilet areas
The city has 51 urination sites and around 200 public restrooms. Woefully, in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, which sees crowds of tourists, there is a severe lack of public toilets.
For example, in District 1, the busiest area in Ho Chi Minh City, there are just 18 public restroom points at markets, parks, bus stops and residential areas, and three were closed.
Near the Ham Nghi bus stop in District 1 stands a public bathroom equipped with four toilet compartments. However, two compartments have been out of order for a year, leaving many nearby workers without access to public bathrooms.
Seriously, these public restrooms are dirty and degraded as too many people use them, while no sanitation workers are contacted to clean them up frequently.
A recent survey conducted by the District 1 People’s Committee showed that every day 1-2 million people travel or work on the district’s streets. Meanwhile, available toilets can serve some 12,500 people a day on average.
Vice-chairman of District 1 Vu Nguyen Quang Vinh said that finding a site to build restrooms is a big challenge as the land in the district is now running out. Funding is also a bottleneck.
The district has reviewed some locations at empty land lots or those set aside for projects but the plans remain on paper.
Many investors have shown their interest in bathroom construction, said Vinh.
|A photo taken on March 11, 2023 shows a dirty public toilet at Ham Nghi Bus Stop in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
Awareness decides cleanliness or dirtiness
Some public restrooms in Hanoi near Xa Dan Lake, or at Thuy Loi University, Thong Nhat Park in Dong Da District, Binh Than Flower Garden, and 108 Military Central Hospital were found clean and unsmelly on March 11 as sanitation employees often clean them up.
However, several bathrooms have deteriorated, with broken doors, degraded chamber pots, and slippery floors.
Many find it hard to access public restrooms as the majority are located at the gates of universities, flower gardens, and parks. There are few toilets in populous areas or venues full of eateries and restaurants.
Le Van Minh, a tech-based driver, who resides in Dong Da District, said that many toilets in Hanoi are shut, while some others are smelly due to the absence of sanitation workers.
Recently, several restrooms in the city have been cleaned up to get less smelly, but their floors remained dirty, said Minh.
The public bathrooms near Hoan Kiem Lake in Hoan Kiem District are overloaded on weekends as too many people flock to a nearby pedestrian street. Though these facilities are tidied and cleaned up, their floors are often wet.
“Cleanliness or dirtiness depends on residents’ awareness. If restroom users throw used toilet paper into trash bins, flush the toilet after use, and do not stand on the toilet seat, bathrooms will be less smelly and dirty,” said Dang.
Urgent action is needed
An official at Ho Chi Minh City’s urban management division said that a few years ago, the city has tabled the dearth of public toilets.
Public land is limited for bathrooms, so the city’s grassroots authorities called on companies and service providers to offer toilet services free of charge. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic discouraged many people.
“Revelers, especially street workers, are hesitant to use toilets at shops due to concerns over motorcycle or car parking,” said the official.
As such, at a recent meeting, Ho Chi Minh City chairman Mai asked relevant agencies to take urgent action to address such a severe shortage of public toilets.
Building pop-up restrooms at trading centers and parks is a pressing need, he said.
Upgrading aging restrooms remains challenging
A representative of Urban Environment Limited Company (Urenco) told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that several public bathrooms which were built before 1990 have deteriorated seriously.
Meanwhile, at many public restrooms, their steel walls are corroded and rusty, while the light systems are out of work, posing a challenge for an upgrade.
A contract on public toilet services covers costs of cleanup, while costs for maintenance and repair are excluded, said a representative of Urenco, proposing rehabilitating existing public restrooms.
Besides, it is urgent to build more public toilets on main roads, and at shopping centers, public venues and tourist destinations.
In 2016, the Hanoi People’s Committee passed a plan to build 1,000 public restrooms using funding from private sources to meet the need of residents and ensure the beauty and value of urban landscapes, at a cost of VND600 million (US$25,500) to VND1 billion ($42,530) each.
However, work on 500 public toilets in the city lagged behind schedule, while the cooperation between grassroots authorities and investors was poor.
|A woman walks past a degraded public restroom in Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan/ Tuoi Tre|
Prime minister orders urgent review of restrooms
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh issued a notice ordering relevant ministries and localities to review the quality of public toilets and build more public restrooms at schools and populous areas.
The prime minister said in the notice that the number of public toilets at public places and tourist sites is limited, failing to meet the needs of residents and tourists.
In addition, competent agencies were told to urgently map out plans to repair and upgrade aging public bathrooms to ensure their capacity, and improve the sanitation system and the beauty of urban landscapes, prior to the end of the third quarter of 2023.
The prime minister also assigned the Ministry of Construction to promptly issue instructions on technical standards for urban infrastructure to guarantee the synchronization of urban facilities, including public restrooms.
Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!