Authorities in HCMC’s downtown District 1 have requested 100 coffee shops and restaurants to open their restrooms to the public to alleviate the shortage in the area.
The initiative came after Hanoi and HCMC, Vietnam’s two biggest cities, were ranked near the bottom in a global ranking of public toilet density of 69 cities by QS Supplies, one of the largest bathroom wholesalers and retailers in the U.K.
They have only 0.01 public toilets available per square kilometer, higher only than the Egyptian capital Cairo, which has 0.002.
Paris topped the ranking, with the French capital having seven per square kilometer, followed by Sydney (3.64) in Australia and Zurich (2.9) in Switzerland.
After the ranking made local headlines, the HCMC People’s Committee ordered districts to build more public toilets, starting with District 1.
Le Duc Thanh, the district chairman, said the coffee shops that have agreed to let people to use their toilets for free include Highlands, Trung Nguyen, King, Katinat, and Thuc, and the restaurants include Din Ky and Hozzizon.
He said the district would call on more businesses to do the same.
Vu Nguyen Quang Vinh, the district’s vice chairman, said there is not enough land to build public toilets to add to the 18 now at markets, parks, a residential area, and a bus station.
Some businesses had once sought to build public toilets, but not at locations the district had deemed necessary.
It has asked the city for land in five areas where no projects are proposed in the next five years for building public toilets.
It is also seeking VND2.5 billion (US$106,000) to build the toilets and VND2 billion to maintain them every year.
Construction and environment officials at the meeting, however, suggested the district should set up mobile toilets, which would not depend on land allocation.
Nguyen Van Nen, the city Party chief, said the city would quickly build public toilets now, and seek private investment in the long term.
The city should make sure its toilets leave a good impression on every visitor and local, and for this other districts should also get coffee shops and restaurants to join hands, he said.
The city should also think about adding public toilets to its urban development plans, he said.
HCMC has more than 250 public toilets.
It added three sophisticated toilets using private funding at Tao Dan, September 23 and Le Van Tam Parks in District 1 in 2014.
Two years later it announced plans to build 1,000 public toilets, but it remains on paper.
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