The Kigali City Council says it is going to increase the number of public toilets in the city amid a shortage that has seen the few available facilities congested.
The capital city’s fast-rising population and spatial growth has overtaken available public toilets, which are mainly located in the original commercial district. This has forced many city residents to either walk long distances or pay to access toilet facilities in commercial buildings.
Kigali currently has a few unevenly distributed pay-and-use public restrooms located in bus terminals, markets and shopping malls.
City officials admit the facilities, which are mostly privately-run, struggle to maintain clean, hygienic conditions because of the huge influx of people using them on daily basis. City officials said this problem will be solved by building more facilities across the city and its suburbs.
“We have completed a mapping exercise to identify locations where public toilets are needed. Where space is available, districts will construct the facilities, but we have engaged private businesses that are easily accessible to passengers and pedestrians, like banks and petroleum stations, to put up public toilets that can be used by the public at a fee,” said City of Kigali spokesperson, Bruno Rangira.
In 2013, Kigali City officials announced plans to construct public toilets in over 30 petrol stations within the city and its environs, but this is yet to happen four years later.
The delay is attributed to business owners being reluctant to put up the facilities due to the cost implications of maintaining the facilities in the absence of a centralised sewerage system.
Mr Rangira told Rwanda Today that Kigali City aims to construct at least 100 public toilets, of which 80 will be at petrol stations and 16 by businesses like banks.
The 100 new toilets are in addition to those built by individual districts in Kigali. He said a partnership framework will see the Kigali Veterans Co-operative Society (KVCS), which currently engages in collecting parking fees, take over management of new and existing public toilet facilities in the capital.
Official figures put Kigali City residents and daily visitors at around 1.4 million people.
City authorities are yet to make the budget for the programme public but they say they are determined to ensure it is executed in the current financial year.
Despite the city lacking enough public restrooms, and access to such facilities costing Rwf100 ($0.12), it has still kept its “clean city” tag. This is because city law enforcers have maintained cleanliness by preventing people from using ungazetted areas to relieve themselves.
The country’s sanitation policy, which was developed by the Ministry of Infrastructure last year, puts an emphasis on making sure that accessible public toilets are incorporated in all public buildings in Kigali City and secondary cities.
Ministry officials say the government can ensure proper management of such facilities by delegating the responsibilities to the private sector.