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In need of public toilets

Tanim Asjad | December 03, 2022 00:00:00

When the authorities are harping on the stories of marvellous development in the country, they have also overlooked numerous social and civic problems. These social troubles, mainly spreading due to bad governance, slowly expose the hollowness of things. Though some argue that it is nonsense to talk about minor problems like open urination, the negative impacts of sidelining the issues accumulate to mountainous proportions. More, many of these problems are interlinked. Urination in public is a civic problem with grave import.

In many areas, urinating in the open space has become a common habit among locals and visitors. No matter if it is near an educational institution, shopping centre or kitchen market, many people are now used to urinating openly at various spots with no reservation. Thus, not only the lonely corners that fall prey to such activity but many busy places are also not spared. Many walls in the city have been defaced due to public urination and emitting bad smells, making it disturbing for pedestrians and residents. People can also be seen urinating beneath the flyovers and foot over bridges and on roadsides of a neighbourhood.

There is no doubt that such a shameless act is almost entirely an issue of behaviour and cultural orientation, but a lack of accessible and clean public toilets is also responsible for the unwanted situation. The number of public toilets is scanty in the city and many of those are inaccessible due to the absence of proper maintenance. Many argue that if clean public toilets are available at a convenient place, people will inevitably use them.

Crowded public places like bus terminals and train stations in Dhaka do not have adequate public toilets, let alone clean and hygienic ones. It is impossible for women to use any such public toilet. Even men mostly avoid those and go for the alternative. Situations in many shopping centres are the same. Conditions in many offices, hospitals and educational institutions are also not better.

Again, other factors are also behind the rise in open urination. There is a large number of floating people roaming around the city daily. They were used to responding to the call of nature wherever they could. Increase in street vendors occupying footpaths and parts of streets in neighbourhoods also has made the matter worse. People have to walk past such odious spots holding their breath tight with whatever is at hand. The situation worsens during the rainy season as rainwater mixed with human waste spreads across the streets. City corporations also do not pay attention to washing out the streets properly.

Failure to respond to nature's call or delay it or even taking less water to avoid the call has serious health implications in the long run. Unfortunately, many people have to delay the act, which is harmful to the body. It may allow excess bacteria to build up in the bladder and can contribute to urinary tract infections. The main reason behind this harmful practice is non-availability of public toilets. Many daily commuters are also compelled to do so due to traffic congestion on the road.

It is exactly for this, there is a need for constructing decent toilets at strategic points, where maintenance should be given the highest priority. It is not a difficult task if the city corporations take up the issue seriously and introduce a system of financing the maintenance cost from the facilities' own income.

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