Beijing toilets to keep the flies down

Updated: 2012-05-24 08:10

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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Beijing toilets to keep the flies down

Beijing's new sanitation standards for public toilets include one item that has people buzzing: No more than two flies allowed.

"I can't figure out the rationale of the rule on flies," said Xu Zhuangyi, 25, an accountant in Beijing.

"It's like a joke to judge the sanitary conditions of a toilet by the number of flies," she said.

The city's 12,000 public toilets have long been a source of complaints from tourists and residents alike, said Xie Guomin, head of the sanitation management division of the Beijing municipal commission of city administration and environment.

Other measures released by the commission on Tuesday include that the waste be collected within half an hour and that all toilets have bilingual instructions.

"With these standards in place, cleaners will tidy the toilets more often and more carefully to ensure toilets in the capital are clean," said Xie.

The question remains: Who is going to tell the flies?

Calling the standard "whimsical", Wang Yue, 23, a Beijing Foreign Studies University student, said she felt the standards were not based on detailed research and consultation.

Ma Teng, another Beijing resident, said flies are not the only problems. Mosquitoes, advertisements on toilet walls, and the shortage of toilet paper and soap are problems Beijing should solve.

In response to residents' questions, Xie said the standards are supposed to serve as a "deterrence" to help keep the toilets clean.

Mao Shoulong, executive deputy director of the Academy of Public Police at Renmin University of China, said measurable standards are needed to evaluate the cleanness of a toilet.

"You have to have quantitative standards when evaluating something," he said.

He likened the two-fly standard to setting 60 points as a qualifying benchmark.

"If you question the two-fly regulation, you can similarly question why 60 points, but not 59 or 61, are set as a benchmark," he said.

The commission will soon carry out an inspection of toilets around hospitals, bus stations and tourist areas, Xie said.

Beijing invested 400 million yuan ($57 million) to give its public toilets a facelift from 2005 to 2008 before the Beijing Olympic Games.

"However, the government's investment and supervision is far from enough," Xie said.

"A clean public restroom requires the understanding and cooperation of the public as well," Xie said.

(China Daily 05/24/2012 page3)