Mobile facility

August 30, 2015

Fairly spacious and stench-free, the portable public toilets at Bagh-e-Jinnah are a commendable facility provided by the PHA, albeit mismanaged

Mobile facility

The sight of mobile toilets, placed inside Bagh-e-Jinnah, is a great relief for the visitors. Fairly spacious and stench-free, the moveable structure, set up by the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA), has the facility for gents, ladies and the disabled.

These toilets are decidedly different from the ones you would find at other public places in the city. For one thing, these are furnished, as an average urban household would be, with washbasins, mirrors, hand dryers, waste bins, liquid soap dispensers, tissue rolls, showers, perfume boxes, and a changing room for the women and kids. Additionally, there is a wheelchair for the disabled.

For the picnickers at Bagh-e-Jinnah, the toilets are a boon. As Sameer, a middle-aged visitor, says, "Such a clean toilet is hard to find at any other public place in the city."

He urges on the PHA to set up such facilities in other parks also. As for the rest of the city, the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) should take up the cause.

Reportedly, the said facility at Bagh-e-Jinnah, which cost an estimated Rs5 million, is fast losing its quality, a mere two years on. Users complain of the accessories disappearing. The washbasins have chipped variously and the showers have been stolen.

When questioned, the PHA Bagh-e-Jinnah Project Director Shahid Iqbal told TNS that the toilet users were to blame for the situation. "They use liquid soap extravagantly. Besides, they don’t use the sinks and wash their feet on the wooden floor instead, damaging it in the process.

"Incidents of theft [of perfume boxes, tissue rolls and showers] have also been reported. The public does not have the civic sense."

According to Iqbal, the authority plans to erect similar structures at Minar-e-Pakistan and Gulshan Iqbal Park.

As to why no money is charged from the toilet users, Iqbal said, "It is the government’s policy."

"Incidents of theft [of perfume boxes, tissue rolls and showers] have also been reported. The public does not have the civic sense."

He went on to explain, "Initially, the project was given to a contractor but after a few days he quit because the people, particularly those who were there for a walk, would not pay. They had been issued special cards for using the facility free of cost."

Since the other toilets at Bagh-e-Jinnah are free for the public, the contractor insisted that those should either be shut or the public be made to pay a token amount. When the PHA did not accept his proposal, he left the project midway.

What’s more, there is no janitor to clean the facility.

Having said that, the model of Bagh-e-Jinnah mobile toilets should be replicated in other parts of the city as these do not cover a huge area of land and certainly do not require an underground sewerage system.

Unavailability of public toilets is a big issue, particularly for travellers and picnickers. On many occasions, the people have to depend on the facilities of the nearby mosques. But these are not available round the clock because most mosques open at prayers’ times and close immediately afterwards. Besides, the women do not generally use the mosque facilities. In such a situation, makeshift toilets are a good solution.

The maintenance part should not be looked over. To quote a visitor, "We are ready to pay a small fee but we cannot bear the filth and dirt [at public places]."

Mobile facility