Viet Nam News -
HÀ NỘI — A lack of public toilets and their low quality is a pressing issue concerning both local people and tourists coming to Hà Nội.
The image of a well-dressed man urinating in the middle of Huỳnh Thúc Kháng Street in late February caught the attention of netizens. While many people condemned his action, others shared their opinions about the shortage of the public toilets in the city.
Lê Thành Luân, a taxi driver, said finding toilets are quite a problem for drivers like him.
“Many road users urinate on the roadsides because there are no public toilets on many routes,” he told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
“This might violate environmental law and affect the city’s aesthetic image, but we have no choice,” Luân said.
Taxi drivers, motorbike drivers and informal labourers are easily caught urinating in public.
According to Hà Nội’s Department of Construction, the city has about 340 public toilets spread over 10 urban districts and Sơn Tây Township.
Among them, as many as 263 toilets are located in alleys to serve people who reside in old living quarters and residential areas.
The rest have been installed along streets and next to bus stops, parks and recreation spaces.
On average, a district has 30 public restrooms while the demand for them is increasing.
Đoàn Xuân Diệp, a representative for Thăng Long SP Trade and Real Estate Investing JSC said a survey conducted by the company pointed out a lack of public toilets still existed on many long and crowded streets.
In the meantime, a lot of existing public toilets including those in the Old Quarter of Hà Nội were dilapidated and dirty, she told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
Thăng Long JSC was the first company who built high quality restrooms in Hà Nội.
Nguyễn Thanh Hà from Thanh Xuân District said she felt uncomfortable using public toilets in the Old Quarter.
“The toilets are full of the smell of urine and are not clean enough,” she said.
While the shortage of public toilets in the city hasn’t been solved, the existing ones fall short of what people expect.
Residents from Thăng Long Tobacco Factory’s living quarter in Thanh Xuân District said they suffered from degraded public toilets.
“The problems with the toilet occurs every seven days. Normally, we have to spend VND400,000 (US$17.9) to repair the toilet each time,” said Trịnh Thị Kim Thoa, a local resident.
Because people living on the second and third floors can’t build a restroom in their house, they have to queue in line for the toilet, Thoa said.
The problems get worse in the morning when everybody is rushing to work, she added.
In addition to the problems like the one occuring at Thang Long Tobacco Company’s living quarters, a number of public toilets are ineffective and abused by street vendors. In some places, local residents have even asked authorities to demolish their public toilets.
“Nobody uses public toilets because every family has one. They are dirty and stink, said a resident, Hiền, who lives at Đông Mác Ward’s 18 Alley, adding that the public toilet was also occupied by drug addicts.
It’s widely thought that public urination will decrease once the city has enough public toilets that are clean, equipped with essential facilities, provided with clean water around the clock and were located in the right places. — VNS