BY SILAS NKALA
THE cash-strapped Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is mulling leasing out its public toilets after failing to service them owing to economic hardships.
Health services director Edwin Sibanda told a recent full council meeting that the department had 20 toilets whose leases had expired and another 20 toilets that were closed.
“Due to the prevailing economic climate, the department did not have the resources to open the closed public convenience. A number of applications to lease those toilets were received and it was prudent that members of the community lease these public amenities,” council minutes read.
“It was, therefore, recommended that council lease out 20 public toilets whose leases had expired and 20 toilets that were currently closed. Discussion ensued and councillor Tinevimbo Maposa while welcoming the proposal, he felt that there was need to also consider the location of these toilets as some people may not afford to pay.”
Councillors said pay toilets in high-density residential areas would be a challenge to manage.
Maposa proposed that council charges user fees than lease out the facilities.
The councillor also proposed that community groups be given the task to look after the toilets.
“Councillors Sinikiwe Mutanda and Lilian Mlilo proposed that public toilets be leased out to people in the community where the toilets were located as these would be well looked after as the users of the toilets would be that particular community,” the minutes
“In response, the chamber secretary (Sikhangele Zhou) advised that council had once run public toilets and experience had it that public toilets were vandalised and messed up to the point that they were not usable. Council was not able to guard these toilets.”
Zhou said leasing the toilets gave assurance that the facilities would be kept clean and user friendly.
“Council should encourage the lessees to charge a minimal entry fee, enough to procure some detergents and pay the one that looked after the toilet, but also affordable to the users.”
The council resolved that leasing out of the toilet facilities to private players was a solution.
The issue was raised at a time the commuting public has raised concern over lack of ablution facilities at Zupco pick-up points, forcing commuters, who spend hours on end in bus queues, to relieve themselves in the