New Telegraph

Curbing open defecation through public toilets

At the flag off of the public toilets project, it was announced that about 10, 000 public toilets would be constructed in strategic locations in Abuja. The project said to be a World Bank supported initiatives, is also aimed at helping Nigeria achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially on Water Sanitation and Hygiene. Inside Abuja gathered that the project is being executed by the government in partnership with the private sector. However, the aim of curbing open defecation in the nation’s capital, by providing better hy- giene practices , might be defeat- ed if members of the public can- not have access to the facilities. Abdul Musa, a poor trader shared his experiences when he was pressed and needed to use one of the public toilets located at the Eagle Square. Musa claimed that he went to the public toilet, seeking to urinate, but was denied access because he couldn’t pay the sum of N100. According to Musa, even when he pleaded with the operator to pay the sum of N50, the attendants vehemently resisted and turned him back.

From our findings, this is just one of the many incidents that lend credence to claims that those involved in the construction of the toilets, may just be interested more in the revenue than in curbing open defecation in the city. Abandoning the project There are fears that as the ad- ministration which started the project, could not reach the targeted 10,000 toilets before leaving, the incoming administration may not accord it the priority atten- tion that it deserves. Inside Abuja’s check confirmed that while some of the toilets have been completed in some of the sites, many others seem to have been abandoned. Open defecation returning? As at the time the project was flagged off, many residents thought that an end had come for the shameful culture of open defecation that had continued to reduce the sanitary and environ- mental aesthetics of the nation’s capital. It is a common experience in Abuja to bump into adults defecating openly, either by the road- side, or at some obscure corners. Sometimes open defecation is prevalent in some public places, such as motor parks and recreation gardens. The situation is horrible, even as it is pathetic in places where homeless people, like beggars and artisans are found in large numbers. Some of the over head bridges located within the City Centre , are some of the places prone to. open defecation.

Recent measures Inside Abuja gathered that one of the measures the administra- tion has adopted to check the menace of open defecation was the sustained onslaught against illegal shanties and makeshift homes around the city. Recently, the focus of Develop- ment Control Department has been the roadside food vendors, mechanics, fuel hawkers, scaven- ger’s and petty traders, because of the belief that there could be some culprits of open defecation among them. Kaka Bello, the Assistant Di- rector, Enforcement, Abuja En- vironmental Protection Board (AEPB), had said the administration would clamp down on these categories of residents, because of the degree of envi- ronmental nuisance they could create. Bello noted that the recent operation the joint taskforce carried out within Asokoro and Area 11 in Garki District was targeted at eliminating every- Curbing open defecation through public toilets thing that contributes to environ- mental nuisance, including open defecation. Meanwhile, residents have pleaded with the Executive Di- rector FCT Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Dr. Mohammed Dan-Hassan, under whose direct supervision, the public toilets project rests, to expedite actions to see that the project was com- pleted. They have also asked that the public toilets should not be made a money making venture, but rather a social service to save humanity and the environment.

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