THOUSANDS LIVE WITHOUT SANITATION
By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay (231-6-402737), email@example.com
Sanitation is known to be one of mankind’s basic necessities for better life. But it seems the thousands of Clara Town residents have compromised this and are virtually not just living in filth but unimaginable poor sanitation conditions.
The township of Clara Town, strategically located in the commercial district of Bushrod Island is just a stone throw from Central Monrovia and has an estimated 61,000 to 65,000 inhabitants. Its sanitation problems range from lack of adequate toilet facilities to unkempt drainages and filthy environment.
THE STRUGGLE FOR TOILETS-a serious issue
The lack of adequate toilet facilities seems to definitely be the township’s most grave sanitation problem wherein over 90% of the houses were built without toilets (whether indoor or close-by). This makes the residents to rely on public toilet facilities; as if to further worsen the residents’ plights these toilets are not only nasty in most cases but are also insufficient to cater to the tens of thousands of residents that flock early morning hours and late evening hours to ease themselves.
To add ‘salt to injury’, a lot of the already insufficient public toilets have been closed to the residents—a situation that has prompted the constructions of over a hundred make-shifts toilets along the bank of the Mesurado River popularly known as the ‘Du River’.
Authorities clothed with catering to these public toilets known as the 7-Man Council of Clara Town told FPA that the closure of these toilets is due to them being over-filled with feces. The 7-Man Council is charged with the general welfare of the Township and is said to be drawn from a cross-section of Clara Town’s most dominant tribes (two representatives each from the Grebo and Vai Tribes which are in majority, one representative from the Kru Tribe and two representatives to generally represent the other tribes of the Township.)
This Council which replaced a previous community council named the United Development Association (UDA) of Clara Town is said to be heading in similar direction as the UDA due to its inablitiy to cater to these needs which includes the continual filthy drainages as shown in the picture.
According to Mr. Augustine Passewe, secretary to Commissioner of the Township of Clara Town there is a unit called the Management Team which is responsible to cater to the drainages. True to his words, many of the residents informed FPA that this Management Team periodically tries its best in cleaning these drainages as well as dump-sites in the community. But again, these efforts just cannot get the commendations that it should probably be getting because it is often said that “a job half-done is not done at all”. On the issue of these public toilets, Mr. Passewe attributed it to their sewerage lines which need to be reconnected to proper ones or new ones dug—indications that they were indeed poorly connected to inadequate or unfunctional sewerage lines. As viewed in some of the pictures, most of the closed public toilets have just been constructed but yet are not able to serve the people for whom they were built.
“My brother, the people built this toilet but we could not use it for even 2 months. In fact, we the women were forced to use the same place with the men because they told us that the ‘women side’ was not good”, explained Miatta Kandakai as she pointed towards one of the relatively new toilets which she lives next to. “So, we force to just use the ones the other people built over the river”, she said as she told our reporter the way forward.
Like Miatta, most of the residents explained that there is indeed a serious need for toilets because a vast majority of the houses have none. They narrated their stories pitifully to the extent that one woman explained how she was compiled to toilet on herself due to the usual over-crowdedness of the toilets (both public and private)one early morning when she had experienced a terrible ‘running stomach’ the previous night. “When I reached to the water side that morning, everywhere was packed. So, I run to the government toilet but again the line was long”, she said. Then she continued: “By the time I could make up mind, I was finished doing it on myself”, she concluded her misfortune.
PAY AS YOU TOILET
Every visit to the toilet is paid for. FPA was informed by a lot of the residents that they prefer the toilets built over the river to the public ones. While their reasons vary from one person to another, the bottom line is that one pays LD$5 per visit to the toilet. Implicitly, one has to calculate or budget additional LD$150 or USD$2.3 monthly for toilet per individual. And that is if one wouldn’t have to use the toilet more than once daily. However, if one experiences a stomach disorder either due to Diareahea or other stomach problem, you just might pay twice this amount. This means that if you have a household of over five to ten persons who are not able to secure a LD$5 note for toilet purpose, then the accumulated circulation is yours.
Another older woman, probably in his late sixties told this reporter they have to set aside at least LD$25 to LD $35 on the day that proceeds Christmas Day or Ramadan Day (depending on which religion you believe in since the Township is dominated by both Christians or Muslims) because, as justified by her, that is when one gets and eats food in abundance.
IMMINENT DANGER LOOMS
Standing along the bank of this river, what can be seen visibly is the chain of make-shift toilets as if you were viewing a congested traffic from an aerial view. According to a FPA survey and proper examination of these make-shift toilets, a vast majority of them are what can only be described as ‘death trips’ while some are made only for those who are brave to use. Children as young as three to four years can be seen squatting over tiny planks that link these toilets to the shore as these toilets are built about three to four feet away from the bank of the River. Since they are small and a lot of their ‘seniors’(older people) will be in queues, they just cannot just the main toilet but use these tiny planks which serve as entrances to these toilets.
In additional to the nasty drainages, some of the Township’s water-pipes are opened for water supply just along the immediate edge of these dangerous drainages. (Available in picture) Some of these water pipes are concentrated right within the same location of the man-holes of some of the public toilets (as shown in the picture).
SITUATION CREATES NEW FORM OF BUSINESS
The compulsory alternative discovered by these residents has eventually led to the establishment of a new form of business that proves to be a worthwhile venture. Owners or constructors of these ‘private’ toilets over the River have just gotten a self-employment that is indeed sustaining. Wilfred Nyante, one of the owners of these numerous ‘water toilets’ told FPA that he makes between LD$900 to $1,000 daily—the equivalent of USD$14.00-$15.00—from 5:30 AM to about 11PM.
Wilfred’s explanation servers as a confirmation that most of the residents prefer to use these ‘water toilets’ to the government or public toilets which is one reason why they (the owners) make this kind of money. “This pays my house rent, feed my family and sends my two children to school”, he said. The profitability of this new form of business has led to its proliferation that almost every day one new one is seen constructed.