Why paying for toilets shouldn’t surprise us

A woman walks past a closed public toilet near the National Archives of Kenya, Nairobi, May 13, 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

A notice on a toilet door in a Nakuru mall justifies why one should pay Sh20 to use the toilet. The reasons include paying the cleaning staff, buying detergents and repairs. The word toilet I hear is old-fashioned. The cool name is now washroom (even if there is no water) or toilets.

It all started in Nairobi after ‘kanjo’ toilets stopped working or got new owners. It is now standard to pay for bathroom services. I even found out that this is the case in Tanzania. And mobile toilets are standard in Kenya, for hire.

Does it make economic sense to pay to use toilets? Someone will be quick to add that we pay for the sewers with our water bills, and that’s not uncommon. We pay for blood, why not expel waste from our bodies?

We might add that some toilets are private property and a fee makes good economic sense. Those who have used private toilets admit they are cleaner and more hygienic. Customers feel they are getting value for their money.

Paying for toilets shouldn’t surprise us. The private sector fills the void where the public sector is either overwhelmed or dysfunctional. That’s why we have private schools, hospitals, and morgues, among other things.

It’s strange that in the same city (oh city). Another sign advertises a public toilet. I see many gas stations advertising their clean toilets, an attraction for travelers who could go beyond the bathroom and buy something.

The lack of good public toilets is a symptom of a deeper wickedness, we never think of those in the lower echelons of society. And we are inhuman. How can we not put toilets on the highways too? Notice the free rest areas on the US interstate system? How come we can copy their constitution and not their common sense? Do we need to be instructed to build toilets?

Can counties provide basic sanitation in high-density locations? What are cheaper roads, highways or toilets? Do we want curious that tourism is thriving? If getting a toilet is a nightmare? Where can you rest on the 500km Nairobi-Mombasa road? 0r 700 km Nairobi-Moyale road? Unfortunately we cleared bushes on most highways…

About Sonia Martinez

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