The sight of women queuing to use public toilets in Harare’s central business district (CBD) is now common.
Day-in, day-out, one comes across women, young and old, uncomfortably following the long queues to relieve themselves.
This is dehumanising and council should be ashamed. Very, very shamed!
We believe, and rightly so, that a council that dehumanises its ratepayers is not worth being there.
Every council should strive to add decency to its population.
We all know the pressure associated with the need to answer to the call of nature.
When nature calls, one must answer to it on time, in a dignified and decent manner.
We shudder to think that the high offices have blinded the city fathers and mothers, that when they drive around town in their big cars, they do not see the toilet queues.
Not that men are spared, but men being men, have the daredevil turn-your-back-and-do-it advantage which women do not have.
Not that what men do is right, no. They also need decency. Men are guilty of the stench in allays. But more often than not, hard-pressed women and men bump into each other in the allays relieving themselves, as if they are animals.
But Harare City Council has, especially dehumanised our women.
Imagine the time our women take in doing their make-up and the time they spend spoiling it in the sun on toilet queues?
Some now take umbrellas to the queues.
Imagine the various diseases such as fibroids and diabetes that put pressure on the bladder?
Imagine having to negotiate with others to jump the queue?
Negotiating with others who, after all, are under similar pressure to relieve themselves? Honestly, seriously? The people of Harare deserve better.
Council has no other mandate than to deliver services to its people.
Harare’s population is growing by each minute, if not second and the municipality should learn to provide critical services such as toilets.
Toilets are a basic human right.
Council should build new toilets to meet demand.
Harare CBD has 21 free toilets and only five pay toilets against thousands of people who throng the town every day.
A few food outlets have toilets too, but for those ones, one has to buy something first to gain access.
The sad story is that toilets are not being seen as a basic necessity from council’s perspective.
But we are not really very much shocked by the ineptitude because even in council offices, the toilets are not up to scratch.
Often there is no water in the toilets in council complexes like Rowan Martin Building.
Do they not say charity begins at home?
Going forward, we believe council should come up with a public toilet policy and strategy that speaks to the growing population of people doing business in the CBD or just in transit.
Outside this, council is culpable of being insensitive and inhuman.
It is never right to subject people to long queues outside toilets as if the call of nature is planned.
Council should engage other stakeholders to come up with a public toilet regime that serves people on time.
For an organised council, toilets should never be a problem.
It all goes down to lack of planning.
Facilities should always correspond to the demands of the growing population.
Council should talk to owners of buildings and in good will, some owners can actually build public toilets and manage them.
This can be done under Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangements where companies want to recoup the cost of building.
Others would just build toilets and surrender them to council to run.
Others might as well build pay toilets and run them for life. At the moment, it is all about lack of foresight, lack of planning and failure to understand how toilet facilities contribute to a cleaner city.
It is failure to understand how the presence of many clean public toilets reduces the spread of diseases.
One wonders when council will be proactive and avoid embarrassing moments such as women queueing to use public toilets. This is completely unacceptable. And, this is completely avoidable.
We all need decency. We all must be dignified. Council should apply a thought process. Council should plan, plan and plan.