Or are we exacerbating the issue?
I was on a trotro one morning, headed to work, when I started experiencing stomach cramps. The pain grew increasingly intense with each passing moment, and I began to sweat profusely and tremble uncontrollably. I needed to use the restroom urgently.
A small amount of pressure on my bowels could have led to utter embarrassment. An elderly lady sitting next to me noticed my discomfort and asked if I was alright, to which I could only respond with a nod, despite knowing that I was not okay.
The journey seemed to last an eternity, with five minutes feeling like an endless five hours. When we arrived at Kaneshie Market, I was fortunate enough to find a public restroom, for which I paid a fee and received a small piece of tissue from the attendant. Without hesitation, I darted inside.
To my dismay, the facility reeked of the stench of a poorly maintained slaughterhouse. The floor was wet, and the disinfectant was not strong enough to mask the overwhelming and nauseating odor. I chose the only available cubicle, only to find blood in the toilet bowl.
Suddenly, my stomach stopped rumbling, and I ceased sweating. I no longer felt any urgency.
Public toilets serve as a solution to a problem. Many households in Accra lack toilet facilities, necessitating the sharing of public restrooms such as this one.
Public toilets are built with the aim of providing emergency relief, as no one should have to walk long distances from their homes to access restroom facilities. This is a matter of basic human dignity.
However, the reality is that public restrooms are not always adequately maintained or sanitized due to the heavy usage they receive. And this can lead to a range of illnesses, including cholera and diarrhea.
Moreover, nature’s call can strike late at night, making it dangerous to venture out onto the streets when one could be assaulted.
Regardless of the living conditions, every person deserves access to basic sanitation facilities such as a toilet. It is a fundamental human right.
Rather than focusing on building public restrooms to serve communities, we should be exploring ways to provide affordable toilets to people in their own homes. This would go a long way in addressing the issue of inadequate access to basic sanitation facilities.