City unlocks restrooms for public

Updated: 2012-11-12 02:41

By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou (China Daily)

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Forty-four restrooms in buildings occupied by government departments and agencies in Guangzhou have been opened to the public, as part of efforts to deal with the city's shortage of public toilets.

All urban management departments — commonly known as chengguan — and some neighborhood committees along major roads in the southern metropolis have opened their facilities.

The offices for Tianhe district's urban management and law enforcement bureau and its legal aid center under the justice bureau have even placed signs in conspicuous places to invite passers-by to use the toilets inside.

The city's chengguan administration, which manages public toilets, has pledged to urge more government buildings to grant the public access to their restrooms in coming months, said Han Zhipeng, a member of the Guangzhou Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who hailed the move a "revolution" in urban management.

"Apart from confidential and sensitive agencies that need armed police at the gates, all other departments should open their toilets to the public to ease the shortage," he said. "The chengguan authority is considering awarding or subsidizing departments that follow suit."

However, a chengguan official, who did not want to be identified, declined to give details about the move on Sunday, saying the "special measure is still under consideration".

Another government official said opening restrooms to the public would affect normal operations in government departments' buildings, and cause difficulty for management.

Han first proposed the measure in April, saying he had been angered by reading about how Tianhe district's legal aid center had turned away a mother and daughter that month.

According to media reports, the 3-year-old girl had a stomach ache and had asked to use a toilet while her mother, surnamed Xia, was taking her to a kindergarten.

Yet, they were refused at the gate, as personnel cited concerns over security.

Guangzhou has a population of more than 16 million but just 1,500 public toilets on the street.

Many residents and tourists have welcomed the measure.

Wan Wenbiao, a Guangzhou office worker, said it will help ease the city's shortage of public toilets, "and won't add much burden or expense to the departments".

Chen Huabin, a tourist from East China's Jiangsu province, said: "Visitors to Guangzhou often find it difficult to find a public toilet."

Most people end up looking for restrooms in fast-food restaurants, she added.