Bus stations in Ho Chi Minh City said their public washrooms are wasted on the public as many passengers and drivers prefer to answer nature's call in the open.
"Many people relieve themselves right outside the toilets and some of them even go for a number two," said a woman who takes care of the washrooms at Mien Dong Bus Station in Binh Thanh District.
Nguyen Ngoc Thua, manager of the station, admitted that the issue is a serious one. "Some people are just ignorant and defecate in the shower area of the washrooms."
"This is grave as it damages the image of the station and the whole city," he said. "We are at our wits' end. Measures have been taken but even after violators are fined, there will be more that do the same."
According to Mien Dong Bus Station, more than 100 bus drivers and their assistants, and 1,100 passengers have been fined by local police for "urinating outside regulated places" since mid 2007.
But many readers have written to Thanh Nien saying that although such violations are unacceptable, passengers and drivers are not entirely to blame.
Public washrooms in the city are often filthy and poorly equipped and many residents tend to choose to either restrain themselves or simply sneak behind a bush, a wall or a bus. Also, many toilets at bus stations have become ghettoes for drug addicts.
"I had to use the washrooms at bus stations several times," a reader who wished to remain unnamed wrote in an email. "I found them very dirty and the staff's behavior was bad. They also charged arbitrarily, sometimes VND500 per use but sometimes VND1,000-2,000."
"In my opinion, people should not be charged when they need to use toilets, and bus stations should find funds from elsewhere to maintain their washrooms," she wrote.
"I was asked to pay VND4,000 to go to the toilet," another reader wrote to Thanh Nien. "You charge people that amount of money and you give them a filthy toilet; it's like you are encouraging people to relieve themselves outdoors."
Quynh Vy of Go Vap District was of the same opinion, saying that if you charge toilet users, you have to make sure that toilets are clean and properly equipped.