[Originally published in The Nation City Page]
ISLAMABAD – The construction of well-built public toilets in various public areas was welcomed by many as a positive development in the provision of services to the public. However, much is left to say about their maintenance.
Stench emanating from these toilets usually poses as a warning of the imminent inconvenience and unhygienic conditions and using one of these public toilets qualifies as an adventure on its own, as dirt on the floor, lack of water in the taps, or non-functioning of the flush systems installed makes these public toilets a last option for most.
“I usually have to rush my children to a nearby restaurant incase the need for use of a toilet arises, and sometimes am forced to buy something as I am making use of their property.
The public toilets are never an option, as they are always in an unhygienic condition” complained Amra Khan, a mother of two toddlers.
Even the public toilets built in well-maintained public areas such as the Lake View Park are in a deplorable condition, so the state of public toilets in busy markets can well be imagined.
“What the CDA should do is charge a nominal fee from users for maintenance costs, and employ people to regularly clean the toilets. This system used to be in place at the Melody Food Park and was successful to some extent. I don’t know why they didn’t implement that system elsewhere” opined Usama Mazhar when asked about public toilets. This system can be seen in place at most railway stations across Pakistan as well, and some other public washrooms where users are charged between five to ten rupees.
With the public paying a tax on each monetary transaction, the least it deserves are hygienic toilets in public areas to minimise inconvenience.
Working public toilets will also help solve the problem of people using ‘open air systems’ when needed.
Toilets with facilities for men, women, and the disabled must be built/renovated in all public areas using material that is sustainable.
Moreover, toilet seat covers should also be made available in order to avoid any hygiene-related issues, and liquid soap containers should be installed.
Furthermore, funds must be allocated for employing workers on regular duty basis to ensure cleanliness and functionality of the toilets, and supervisors should go on rounds to ensure efficiency of the staff. Apart from providing employment to many, this system will help making life much better for the citizens of the city.