Residents of Nungua, a suburb of Accra are complaining very bitterly about the health hazards posed by a public place of convenience in the township. The foul smell engulfing the entire vicinity of the toilet and beyond makes breathing difficult and the mere sight of the structure and its environs an eyesore.
Unfortunately, what the dailyEXPRESS team could not stand for a few minutes has been with the people for several years, and according to residents, the poor sanitary conditions and foul smell has been tormenting them for a long time.
“The whole places smells and I think you can even feel it yourself,” one young man said holding his nose in disgust.
The public toilet is located behind the shell filling station at Nungua and near the main market. It has two main sections for both male and female and is able to admit at least ten people at time.
The failure or refusal (as some residents put it) by the sub-metro authorities to empty the container containing the human waste has resulted in the human excreta overflowing. Inside, the place is full, creating lots of discomfort to users of the place. The large quantity of flies in the area adds to the 'torture' of the residents.
During our tour, we found that containers placed at the back of facilities are full and almost overflowing into the pedestrian way. Conditions inside the male section are just bad, with lots of pieces of used cigarettes, a result of excessive smoking by users to 'reduce' the potency of the smell.
Used toilet papers remain scattered at the place. The squatting places are in a worse state. A gentleman who was about to use the facility during our tour, took off his shirt outside to prevent the bad smell from getting stuck in the shirt.
The caretaker of the place, a young lady who declined to give her name said there's no bad smell in the area. Possibly as a result of sitting close to the facility for a long time without knowing the health hazards, the young lady shocked the dailyEXPRESS team when he said in Ga angrily: “which smell is coming from where. I personally don't smell anything and if what you are saying is true then, I suggest it must be coming from the refuse dump.”
“Have you been to the other place to find out what is happening there? Why didn't you go to that place to attend nature's call yet decided to come here,” she shouted at us, while pointing to another public toilet just within the same environment.
The other facility she referred the team to was built a couple of years ago to replace the old one, but the latter was not closed down because it was believed it could still be useful to the public. The new one charges 800 cedis and the old one, 600 cedis.
“It's not everybody who can pay the 800 cedis. It looks very funny but most of the people here do not see the reason why they should pay for attending a nature's call when they can equally do the same thing at the beach free of charge,” one gentleman who gave his name as Nii Larbi told the dailyEXPRESS.
According to him, the old toilet was not closed down because the authorities thought it could somehow prevent people from defecating at the beaches, but the situation is still the same. “I think it will take time for the mentality of the people here to change,” he said.
During a follow-up visit to the sub-metro office in charge of the public toilets, an official acknowledged the unfortunate state of the toilet and the health risk it possess to residents. He however put the blame on the labourer expected to work on the facility.
“You know this work is very difficult and not many people would be interested in doing it and so it's hard trying to get people. The gentleman in charge of the cleaning of the place is supposed to come today but I don't know why,” she said.
The place is very close to the market and most people are of the opinion that a potential outbreak of cholera or any airborne disease could be dangerous to the health of residents.
A community health nurse, Rosemary Ardayiefio, told dailyEXPRESS the current condition is a huge source of worry to health experts in the area. She said her outfit has reported the issue to the authorities but the same old story of “it shall be taken care off” is what they are told.
Miss Ardayiefio also blamed the residents for their lukewarm attitude towards the current happening in the area. She said most of them even go to the extent of defecating in the open as well as refuse dumps therefore contributing to the already worsening situation.
“Even around the toilet facility, you see people using the place as a refuse dump and the place is today so,” she told dailyExpress.
Story by Frank ADDO