Bring toilets at petrol pumps to public use, say stakeholders

Kathmandu, January 26

There must be at least a public toilet on the premises of a petrol pump for customers. Many petrol pumps in Kathmandu have public toilets, but these toilets are not open to the public.

Most of the public toilets built on the premises of petrol pumps remain locked and some toilets are not in sorry condition. Most of them do not even have water facility.

Moreover, petrol pump owners have built toilets in such way that they do not easily come into people’s notice. A large number of people even do not know that toilets built at petrol pumps are for public use.

Experts and stakeholders have suggested to the government that it should enforce the existing law and make petrol pumps provide toilet facility to customers which can solve the problem caused by lack of public toilets in Kathmandu valley to a great extent.

Article 20 of Dealers By-laws 2008 issued by Nepal Oil Corporation states that all the petrol pumps in the country must provide toilet and drinking water facilities to the customers.

Talking to The Himalayan Times, country representative of Aerosan, Prakash Amatya, said the sanitation problem caused by lack of sufficient number of public toilets could be solved by making use of the infrastructures the government already has. Aerosan is an international non-government organisation working in field of sanitation and waste management.

“It may be difficult to ask the private petrol pump owners to allow pubic to use their toilets, but if the government comes with solid plans and policies it is not that difficult,” he added.

He also said that the government, including local bodies, lacked proper laws to manage waste in the country.

During the 28th municipal meeting a few months ago, KMC had formed a three-member committee to study how local bodies could solve problems caused by lack of public toilets. The committee led by KMC Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi calling a meeting of stakeholders informed that they would effectively implement the rule to provide toilet facility to customers at petrol pumps.

“Apart from utilising the toilets at petrol pumps, we will also identify new places where we can build public toilets,” said Khadgi.

Poor sanitation in existing public toilets in urban areas have deprived people of toilet facility and some are compelled to use these toilets to relieve themselves. There are altogether 68 public latrines in the valley.

According to Aerosan, such toilets serve at least 300 users a day. Public toilets at Pashupati and Ratnapark usually serve 1,000 persons a day on busy days, the report states. One in three persons is a woman among the public toilet users.

KMC alone generates more than Rs five million per year from the 29 public toilets. KMC has made a deal with a private vendor to run Bhotahiti-based public toilet at Rs 412,500 annually.

Similarly, it charges Rs 114,333 for Bir hospital-based public toilet and Rs 227,666 for Khula Manch-based public toilet.

With operators becoming more profit-oriented, most public toilets in Kathmandu Metropolitan City are in a sorry state. KMC gives the responsibility of maintaining these toilets to the private sector through tender for a year.