Using a wet, unclean toilet sans basic facilities can certainly be an unpleasant experience. Sri Lanka, as a developing country, still has to go a long way in terms of upgrading various facilities, one being sanitary needs. When it comes to sanitation, it includes everything from sewage facilities to drinking water. One main concern among daily commuters is the dirty state of public toilets. Toilets in fact made headlines recently when Colombo’s Mayoress exposed the budget allocations to refurbish her official residence. A media report initially stated that Rs. 5.7 million was allocated to refurbish toilets at her official residence, but she reiterated the fact that a sum of Rs. 5.2 million had been allocated to preserve the archaeological value of her official residence. Following this, the sheds light on the state of several public toilets in Colombo and thoughts from commuters.
- None of these toilets had toilet paper, tissue or hand-wash
- The CMC has completely renovated close to 17 toilet units
- It’s important to educate people on using toilets
- The CMC has a team of district engineers who inspect these toilets weekly
Always wet, always stinks
Recently the dropped in at several public toilets situated in Fort, Galle Face, Gunasinghapura and Havelock Town and discovered that almost all of them were wet. People using some of these toilets had forgotten to flush their evidence and even to close the taps in these facilities. In some of these toilets the doors didn’t close properly and were tied with strings. A nominal fee of Rs. 20 is charged from users, but the authorities maintaining the Fort Public Toilets charge Rs 20 despite the notice stating that the fee is Rs. 10. Every other toilet also charges the same rate. Especially at the Galle Face toilet, there was a bad stench which clearly gave signs of poor maintenance. These toilets also had no commode seat or a hand shower except for a tap and a bucket in the left hand corner. These toilets were also wet. None of these toilets had toilet paper, tissue and hand-wash. Certain personal hygiene products were carelessly thrown into the dustbins adding to the unpleasantness.
Shortage of manpower
Speaking to the CMC’s Director of Engineering Works A.C.M Fazal said that the CMC has completely renovated close to 17 toilet units with state-of-the-art facilities. “Although the establishment of these units is under the Colombo Municipal Council they are being outsourced. Therefore there’s a nominal charge when people use these toilets. Especially toilets in the Colombo North area have been abandoned for years because people have started building their own toilets and nobody uses public toilets. Although they are abandoned the CMC has to bear the electricity and water bills and eventually public toilets become a liability.
There’s also a shortage of manpower and therefore we thought it was best to outsource them. We have identified seven more locations to establish public toilets and we are introducing toilets which could be used by differently-abled persons as well. We also want to ensure the safety of users and therefore we are in the process of building separate toilets for gents and ladies. If there are any complaints we have a team of district engineers who weekly inspect these toilets. They file a report and identify any missing equipment and shortages. This way we are able to keep them up-to-date and in a usable condition,” he said.
These toilets were also wet. None of these toilets had toilet paper, tissue and hand-wash. Certain personal hygiene products were carelessly thrown into the dustbins adding to the unpleasantness
Children not using school toilets
When contacted Dr.Deepal Perera, Consultant Paediatrician at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital, said that due to unhygienic conditions in toilets, people have a tendency to develop various health problems. “They could end up having skin infections and viruses. When it comes to children they sometimes don’t drink water and also don’t use the school toilets. This in turn would lead to kidney problems and if the water isn’t filtered it may even lead to conditions such as diarrhea. Therefore it’s important to educate people on using toilets, so that it’s in a state where the next person can use.” said Dr. Perera.