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Harare battles acute public toilets shortage

by Staff reporter
15 Jan 2024 at 05:12hrs | Views
Harare faces further risks of cholera infection with the shortage of public toilets in the city centre as the majority are closed or inaccessible.

The city has public toilets dotted around the CBD, but of these, only pay toilets are working while the rest are closed which has led to an increase in open defecation.

The toilets at Copacabana rank, Bata at the corner of Leopold Takawira and Bank Streets, Market Square, Harare Gardens and the Flyover to Mbare downtown were not working yesterday while the ones at Simon Muzenda Bus Terminus and Africa Unity Square were functional, but using buckets. The rest have been converted into pay toilets, which many cannot afford.

Residents have since raised concern that the lack of access to public toilets was a health threat and called for the local authority to ensure they have access to toilets to avert more disease outbreaks.

"There is more traffic in town so there is need for the council to make sure that all the toilets are open for everyone. Failure to do so will mean that we will all be exposed to cholera and other diseases," said Mrs Martha Jona, a vendor at the Africa Unity Square.

At the private Ximex parking area, vendors who conduct their business on the street corners said they used pavement and post office walls to relieve themselves.

"We are here in town to make money not to spend money. I cannot pay $2 500 every time I want to visit the toilet, for me that is a lot money. So the city council should fulfil its duties by providing free toilets. To save my money, I use those pavement and buildings as toilets," Mr Tinashe Moyo said.

Another vendor, who requested to remain anonymous, said it was difficult for women to relieve themselves in the open so they ended up using the only pay toilet at Africa Unity Square.

"However, even when we pay, there is a long queue which means you have to wait long to access the toilet. Sometimes council closes the toilets because there is no running water so this becomes a problem for us," she said.

Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Stanley Gama acknowledged that toilets in the city centre were in a sorry state and that the local authority was struggling to address the situation.

"There are only two toilets that were vandalised in Harare Gardens that are closed whilst we wait for the fittings. Others are functional, but are at times closed when there is no water in the CBD. The only time there is no water in the CBD is when there is no power at our distribution centres," he said.

Mr Gama said council was committed to addressing the problem as soon as possible.

"The vandalised toilets will be fixed soon and so for what we are working with Zesa to find a solution that we have dedicated uninterrupted supply at our water distribution centres," he said.

Source - The Herald