Following the hugely unfortunate incident that happened at the FINEXS bus station in Douala, Mimi Mefo Info took a closer look at the state of public toilets in Cameroon.
Despite all the noise made about improved hygiene conditions, it is quite more evident that the situation is gradually shifting for the worst with each passing day.
In a major city like Yaoundé, the capital of the country, public toilets are almost absent. The few ones spotted at only very strategic spots happen to be in completely bad shape.
In most of the big cities, places of huge and constant gatherings like markets, drinking spots, and some public offices are very evident examples of the authorities’ neglect of public hygiene. These public places are centres of filth and potential diseases. In a big market in Yaoundé for instance, you are more likely to see a kid urinating beside a restaurant than in an actual toilet.
The few toilets spotted are grossly neglected and never cleaned. There is little or no disinfection of these public restrooms, perhaps one of the reasons why most persons choose to abscond. Most often there is no steady flow of water for users to flush after usage. People still use it even if they know the mess remains there after they leave. It is almost as if the public mantra “what is for everybody is for nobody” is what guides the people in their daily livelihoods.
An Economics student at the University of Yaoundé II, Bruno Diange says the only public toilets he has ever actually used are the ones in school.
“Since I came to Yaounde, I haven’t seen many public toilets around the town. The ones I have used are the ones in school which are only clean on Mondays. But I think it is really of great importance that the authorities provide public toilets in the city among other facilities like trash cans because that will go a long way to improve the hygienic conditions of the city. For instance, when you look at a town like Kigali in Rwanda, you can almost see the objective of their authorities just with a quick look at their streets, ‘Cleanliness at all cost’. So many trash cans and clean public toilets are littered almost everywhere around the city,” he explained.
The situation is even more deplorable and vexing at most health facilities in Yaounde.
An anonymous caregiver in Yaounde told MMI by phone that “Please there is something going on at the Yaounde central hospital…I was so embarrassed with what I saw today…That patient and their caretakers are being asked to pay the sum of 100f before using the rest room and if you Want take a bath you pay 200f…..So each time u use the rest room, you pay 100f for as long as you stay in the hospital”.
For his part, a Buea denizen, Berinyuy, opined that councils should handle the public toilet situations of their municipalities and reduce the filth around the towns.
“I think the councils should handle public situations in their various spheres of influence. For instance in Buea where I am from, I don’t know of any public toilets in Buea apart from the one in Mile 17. In Molyko, I think I can confidently say there is no public toilet that I know of and that is highly disconcerting,” he stressed.
Another student in Yaoundé, Atanga Martine equally thinks the number of public toilets in the country has to be drastically increased to take care of the needs of the ever-increasing Cameroonian population.
“From the few toilets I’ve been to, they are not the best and greatly need rehabilitation too. Some other ‘Private-public toilets’ tend to charge for usage and that brings about a lot of controversies. What I’m equally saying is that users of these toilets no matter how few they need to be very responsible in their usage of the public facility. The toilet is as clean as the last user. We’re equally not going to blame the government on the state of hygiene in these toilets but the essential thing is Cameroon needs more public toilets,” she concluded.
Lawrence, another student is more concerned about the incident that happened at FINEXS.
“When you look at what happened at Finexs Douala, you quickly realize that nobody would charge you to pay for relieving yourself if there were enough public toilets around town. I would not blame them for charging people for using toilets because when the place is messed up, someone will need to be paid to clean it,” he said.
Cameroonians are all agreed that it will be most appropriate for the sanitation of the country to be top-notch for the “Vision 2035” to be a reality.
© Mimi Mefo Info