Harare has a population of more than 2 million and every day a significant part of the population visits the Central Business District (CBD) while some of the visitors come from outside the city. Where a population of this magnitude is present hygiene becomes a serious issue.
Members of the public have shared their opinions that the CBD needs more public toilets. This follows the frequent and disgusting sight of plastic bottles filled with urine and piles of human waste. If you are wondering whether it is urine in the bottles City Council cleaners have confirmed it.
Leslie Gwindi, City Council Corporate Communications Manager, said, “There are 21 toilets in the CBD. They are all in working order. Four of the toilets are pay toilets.”
One citizen claimed “We are seeing these bottles filled with urine and human waste in alleyways because the City Council public toilets are not kept clean all the time unlike the pay toilets. There are not enough toilets in the CBD considering vendors are not willing to walk more than 100 metres from their point of operation in pursuit of a toilet.”
Alleyways and places that are usually not busy but are easily accessible have been targeted by the same people who litter our Sunshine City with rubbish. These people are usually the ordinary Zimbabweans earning below the poverty datum line and hence not able to afford 5 Rand for every visit to a clean toilet. Some are unwilling or unable to access public toilets because they are too far away.
Gwindi was of a different view as he said, “All of them are accessible to the public. At times some of them are closed because of technical faults. But once repairs are done they are opened to the public immediately.”
A random visit to the public toilets in the CBD by Harare News gathered that the toilets in Harare Gardens are closed (and have been for a long time), while the toilets at Copacabana taxi rank were filthy. The urinal was overflowing and the smell was appalling as it was clear the toilets had not been cleaned for a very long time. On the other hand all the pay toilets were well maintained and hygienic.
If you’re wondering whose duty it is to maintain the toilets, Gwindi said “It is the responsibility of council to keep the public toilets clean.”
Citizens in the CBD agree that more toilets are needed as many people are not willing to walk more than 100 meters to access a toilet, and resort to antisocial behaviour such as using plastic bottles and discarding them anywhere.