Wednesday, 6 July, 2022

Public toilet availability: Where Dhaka stands?

Public toilet availability: Where Dhaka stands?

Public bath use in Greece dates back to the sixth century BC. The planners of the Indus valley city Mohenjo-Daro felt the necessity of these essential amenities and made adequate arrangements for those more than 4,600 years ago. The Chinese people also used public toilets during the Shang dynasty (1600 – 1046 BCE). Records of public bath use in other civilisations can be traced back to the ancient period. But where do Dhaka and other major cities of the country stand in terms of availability and usability of public toilets? It would have been better not to raise the question but we cannot.

Public toilets are few and far between in Dhaka and all other cities. The limited numbers of these civic amenities that maintain their precarious existence in the city are difficult to find in times of need and much below the usability level. And more importantly, none of them are disability-friendly.

Some time by the second half of 2014, media carried an interesting story that half a dozen of newlywed girls in a village of India’s Uttar Pradesh left their in-laws’ house solely because there were no toilets in them. But the inhabitants and commuters in our cities cannot leave the places where they earn their daily bread. So they are compelled to move around in the cities and do the essential job in this or that corner.

Presence of public toilets in every crowded place is not only essential for a healthy lifestyle for the city dwellers but also a liveability index of the city. It also reflects the level of our culture as a civilised nation. It is really a matter of shame that we do not have sufficient number of the amenities. Our city fathers throughout ages failed to feel the essentiality of the things; whatever insignificant number of them are there have been built in a very lackadaisical manner. That is why, only now – after thousands of years of the Greek and Indus Valley people, we hear the Mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation saying that they are planning to construct at least one public toilet in each ward of the city. It hardly needs to be mentioned that one in a ward is much below the minimum requirement. However, as the saying goes – better late than never; but what about the north part of the city and other urban centres around the country?