Blantyre City Council (BCC) is constructing public toilets in all official city markets, in transit routes and other public spaces to improve sanitation in the city.
BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said the construction of the initial 40 public toilets is funded by the Council and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through an organisation called Waste-Malawi.
Kasunda said the city plans to construct and rehabilitate 28 public toilets at Limbe produce market, Blantyre produce & flea market, Mbayani, Chemussa, Chirimba, Chilomoni, Zingwangwa, Manase, Ndirande, Misesa, Bangwe main, Bangwe Mvula markets, HHI, Ziboliboli, Bible House, Ginnery Corner opposite Fire Brigade Offices and Ginnery Corner near the fly over public toilets just to mention but a few.
However, he hinted that the council intends to have 100 public toilets spread across the City.
Without being specific on the amount required, Kasunda said private partners will be involved in the operation and management of the toilets after they have been constructed or rehabilitated.
“Experience has shown that public facilities are hardly respected by the public. To maintain good hygiene and clean public toilets has been a big hustle. We experimented with Bangwe main market and Blantyre produce markets where the private are running some toilets. We found that it is possible to have clean and hygienic public toilets and members of the public are willing to pay so long the facility is clean and hygienic.
Besides that through our partners, Waste- Malawi and Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement (Ayise) we did a survey in the city as regards sanitation needs. The findings are exactly as explained above. Hence as Council we think the best way to sustainably have clean and hygienic toilets is involving the private partners. Furthermore, we expect the private sector to scale up the project,” he explained.
He added that the Council has also put up standards for public toilets structures, operation and management and only those meeting the requirements and standards will be allowed to operate.
“The City of Blantyre belongs to the residents and for us to have a clean city we need the participation and cooperation of all. We cannot afford to have poor sanitation in the city because it is a public health hazard. Where there are such hazards investors will not come which will have social impacts. Besides poor sanitation brings with it various health problems for example diarrhoeal diseases,” he added.
A vendor at the Ginnery Corner Thomas Bitoni, where one of the toilets constructed by the council is located, hailed the Public Private Partnership approach saying it has ensured proper management of the toilets.
“In the past when the toilet was being run by the council people were abusing it and it was not properly cleaned but the one managing it now is very strict and it is tidy. We pay K100 to visit the toilet but we are not complaining as long as hygiene is maintained,” he said.
Bitoni who has been selling merchandise such as sweets and biscuits at the Ginnery Corner for over ten years spoke of the need for more toilets there describing it as a busy place.