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Supervision of public toilets key to sanitation

Update: November, 21/2013 - 09:36
"I'm not sure how this project will be carried out, but it seems to be too expensive," Trinh Ngoc Thach, vice chairman of the National Assembly's Committee for Culture, Education, Adolescents and Children Affairs said.— File Photo

HA NOI (VNS)— Ha Noi National Assembly deputies want the city authority to supervise construction of public works funded by the State budget to avoid unnecessary waste.

This was the message from Trinh Ngoc Thach, vice chairman of the National Assembly's Committee for Culture, Education, Adolescents and Children Affairs in a statement to Tien phong (Vaguards) newspaper after the municipal People's Committee approved construction of 14 steel public toilets worth VND15 billion (US$750,000).

The city has asked the Ha Noi Urban Environment Company to build 14 standard toilet blocks, including 10 facilities with two toilets and the remaining four housing four toilets. Each facility is expected to have an area of between 25-30 square metres.

The toilets will be located in densely populated public areas to serve both city dwellers and tourists. The State budget backed project will kick off later this year.

"I'm not sure how this project will be carried out, but it seems to be too expensive," Thach said.

"No matter how huge the construction work is, it must be cost-effective for users, or else it will be a waste."

Nguyen Manh Cuong, director of the Ha Noi Urban Environment Company, said the firm and consultancy unit had carefully surveyed the positions and designs of public toilets. It also worked with sanitation equipment producers before calculating the cost.

"The actual cost of a toilet facility is only around VND300-350 million ($14,100-$16,450), but there are other costs, such as rooms for the workers, sanitation equipment, costs for installing water pipes, electricity and consultancy," he said.

According to Cuong, this was an initial estimation. The company would work with relevant units to map out the progress, and the project would be supervised by the municipal Department of Finance.

Currently, there are 310 public toilets in the four urban districts of Ba Dinh, Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung and Dong Da. Another 16 public toilets are also located in the Old Quarter, the city's main tourism attraction.

However, many of these are unused or abandoned. For example, six public toilets were built in the West Lake area, but now some workers have been seen sleeping in them due to a shortage of users. Others have degraded and smell so bad that nobody wants to use them.

Nguyen My Huyen, a resident in Hoan Kiem District's Hang Chieu Street, said she barely used public toilets for fear of the terrible odours.

"Even the standard one in Le Thai To Street, the cleanest I've ever known in the city, has a bad smell sometimes when workers forget to clean it," Huyen said.

James Godber, a British man who has lived in Ha Noi for four years, said the steel toilet near Hoan Kiem Lake was the only one he knew of.

"I have to go to coffee shops, bars or shops when nature calls. Public toilets are scarce and hard to find," he said. — VNS


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