Ho Chi Minh City, despite being a megacity, has a severe shortage of public toilets. The city is ranked 67th among 69 tourism cities with poor public toilet systems, with only around 200 public restrooms available. The enormity of the toilet shortage is ‘unacceptable,’ said Ho Chi Minh City chairman.
District 1, the busiest area in the city, has only 18 public restroom points at markets, parks, bus stops, and residential areas, with three of them closed. The lack of public toilets is especially severe in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, which sees crowds of tourists.
According to a report by Tuoi Tre Newspaper, the available toilets are often dirty and degraded due to the high number of people using them, and the lack of frequent cleaning by sanitation workers. A recent survey showed that every day, 1-2 million people travel or work on the district’s streets, while available toilets can serve only some 12,500 people a day on average.
Finding a site to build restrooms is a big challenge as the land in the district is now running out, and 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.
Urgent action is needed to address the severe shortage of public toilets in Ho Chi Minh City. Building pop-up restrooms at trading centers and parks is a pressing need, as public land is limited for bathrooms. The city’s grassroots authorities have called on companies and service providers to offer toilet services free of charge, but the COVID-19 pandemic has discouraged many people.
Ho Chi Minh City chairman recently asked relevant agencies to take urgent action to address the shortage of public toilets. Upgrading aging restrooms remains challenging, as several public bathrooms built before 1990 have deteriorated seriously. Rehabilitating existing public restrooms is proposed, as costs for maintenance and repair are excluded from the contract on public toilet services.
In Hanoi, some public restrooms near Xa Dan Lake, 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.
In 2016, the Hanoi People’s Committee passed a plan to build 1,000 public restrooms using funding from private sources, but work on 500 public toilets in the city lagged behind schedule, while the cooperation between grassroots authorities and investors was poor.
Building more public toilets on main roads and at shopping centers, public venues, and tourist destinations is urgently needed to meet the needs of residents and ensure the beauty and value of urban landscapes, the Tuoi Tre Newspaper reported.