The seriously-degraded, stinky state of public toilets has become an affliction for people in Hanoi, which has about 400 public bathrooms serving a population of more than 8.3 million.
Using public toilets has become a nightmare for people and tourists in the Vietnamese capital city.
At My Dinh Bus Station, one of the biggest bus depots in Hanoi handling thousands of passengers every day, many public toilets are overgrown with wild plants as observed by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters.
|A public toilet is overgrown with wild plants on Nguyen Hoang Street in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
At the back of one of those bathrooms on Nguyen Hoang Street, a beverage stall has been established.
Inside the bathroom, there are two toilet compartments for males and females, with one of them being closed, accompanied by an overpowering stench.
In that sole operational toilet compartment, one broken urinal was unusable and sealed with a plastic bag.
|A urinal is sealed with a plastic bag inside a public toilet in Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
The handle to flush the toilet was missing and the hand wash basin was not working.
After using the toilet, people have to use a bucket to pour water into it.
Despite all of those problems, toilet users are expected to give an employee stationed there from VND3,000 (US$0.13) to VND5,000 ($0.21) after every use.
|A man relieves himself outside a public toilet at My Dinh Bus Station in Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
The Tuoi Tre reporters witnessed the same situation at another public toilet along Trich Sai Street in Tay Ho District.
“This toilet is completely free, users don’t have to pay anything,” said Lieu, a sanitation worker there.
On the same street, a different public toilet designed with four stalls was closed on Sunday afternoon.
|A public toilet on Trich Sai Street in Tay Ho District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
According to a staff member, the toilet has just been repaired and cannot be used yet.
“There are really very few public toilets around this large West Lake,” said Nguyen Anh Minh after using a public toilet near the lake.
“I had to go a long way before finding one here, but its quality is very poor as the inside is smelly and dirty.
|A public toilet is closed on Trich Sai Street in Tay Ho District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
“I was reluctant to use it but I had no choice.
“After using it, I think I feel sick.”
As counted by Tuoi Tre, there are only two public toilets around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hoan Kiem District, insufficient for the large number of visitors to the top tourist attraction in the capital city.
|A public toilet around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
The outside of those two public toilets looked quite modern and new, but the inside smelled strongly and one of the doors was also broken.
People often have to get in line for their turn to use the restrooms.
“I find the smell here unpleasant and the number of people with demand are high,” said Hoang Hai Yen, 21.
|A door is broken at a public toilet around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
“Every time I step into similar public toilets across Hanoi, I feel disgusted.
“I hope Hanoi will build more public toilets in tourist destinations for residents and tourists to use.
“Moreover, public toilets need to be deodorized and cleaned more often.”