Harare’s Dysfunctional Toilets Charge USD50 Cents Per Use
22 April 2024
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In Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, the public toilets remain inoperable, exacerbating a health and sanitation crisis in the city’s bustling center. Despite charging a significant 50 cents per use, these facilities have been shuttered indefinitely due to ongoing water shortages, leaving many without basic sanitation services.

Notices declaring “Not in Use — No Water” have become a common sight on toilet doors throughout the city, including popular locations like Harare Gardens and Copacabana area. This closure has forced street vendors, commuters, and the homeless to resort to relieving themselves in service lanes and secluded spots, further sullying the city’s streets.

The malfunction of these facilities not only poses a stark contradiction to Harare’s aspiration to achieve world-class city status by 2025, but it also raises serious public health concerns. The vicinity of food vendors near these unsanitary conditions is particularly alarming given the lingering threat of cholera—a grim reminder of past epidemics.

Outraged by the ongoing situation, locals have expressed their dissatisfaction with the city council’s management of the crisis. A taxi driver lamented the unexpected cost of using the public restrooms, which at 50 cents, are unaffordable for many who earn a meager daily income. He shared, “To save money, I find myself forced to use pavements and building corners instead.”

Another resident criticized the lack of maintenance and accountability, highlighting that the closed facilities provide no value to ratepayers and only contribute to the degradation of their community. Meanwhile, a public transport driver named Nancy Svoni reported being charged $2 000 for tissue paper, despite sporadic access to the non-functional toilets.

In response to these issues, Harare City Council spokesperson, Mr. Stanley Gama, emphasized that the council is collaborating with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to address and prosecute corrupt practices among city workers, including illicit charges for toilet use. “We are determined to root out corruption as we strive towards becoming a world-class city,” he stated.

As the situation unfolds, the residents of Harare continue to await effective action and improvements that will restore dignity and health to their daily lives. The current state of the public toilets remains a glaring blemish on the city’s reputation and its goals for the future.- State Media