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Chengguan offices urged to ease squeeze on toilets

Updated: 2013-12-14 08:21
By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou ( China Daily)

Guangzhou's urban patrol units have been urged to open restrooms in their buildings to the public, setting a good example for other government departments.

Political advisor Han Zhipeng made the call amid ongoing efforts to ease a shortage of public toilets.

The city's urban patrol administration, known as the chengguan, launched a campaign in November last year to encourage authorities to make their facilities available to passers-by.

So far 105 buildings have complied, according to a statement by the chengguan. Most are in Tianhe and Yuexiu districts, and in major streets and busy areas.

However, "most of them are neighborhood committees, hotels, restaurants and hospitals," said Han, who is a member of the Guangzhou committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Many government buildings still refuse to open their doors, he said.

He urged departments to introduce measures and systems to facilitate the campaign, and said the chengguan should take the lead by placing signs to welcome people to use their toilets.

"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 city's toilet shortage," he added.

A city government employee, who did not want to be identified, said opening restrooms to the public would affect operation procedures, cause management difficulties and raise government costs.

A neighborhood committee official in Yuexiu district said her authority does allow people to use its toilets, but added that no signs will be placed outside to inform passers-by.

Han proposed the opening-up measure in April last year after reading in a newspaper about how a legal aid center in Tianhe had turned away a mother and her 3-year-old daughter.

According to media reports, the girl felt ill and had asked to use a toilet on the way to the kindergarten. They were refused at the gate, as personnel cited security concerns.

Tianhe legal aid center has since opened its restrooms to the public.

"Security is just an excuse for many government departments," Han said. "Many do not belong to confidential and sensitive units."

Han said he would continue to propose the measure to the Guangzhou committee of the CPPCC.

Many residents and tourists welcome the measure.

Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, has a population of more than 16 million but has about 1,500 public toilets.

Office worker Chen Hongkun said opening facilities in government buildings would help ease the shortage "and would only slightly increase their costs".

Wang Feng, a business representative from Hunan province, said visitors to Guangzhou often find it difficult to find a public toilet in busy areas, and most turn to hotels, hospitals and fast-food restaurants.