Esther Neba- National Times News: As Yaoundé prepares to celebrate its National Day on the 20th of May, the city’s residents are worried over the capital City’s ability to cater for the needs of thousands of youths who will be gathering in Post Central to celebrate the Country’s independence and unification.
Yaoundé was built as the capital of Cameroon, by the German, and later French colonial government with poor public planning and limited public infrastructure. More than fifty years after the country gained independence, the government is still struggling to address some basic infrastructure challenges.
With a population of 1.2 million people, Yaounde lacks public toilets, and even where they are present accessing public toilets in Yaoundé continues to be a worrying issue to most residents of the capital City. In 2018, the government announced that it was creating over 400 public toilets across the country.
However the hygienic quality of these toilets and high prices charged on users prevent most residents from using these newly created facilities. Users pay 200frs to access VIP toilets with toiletries and 100frs for standard toilet with no toiletries. Street children and low-income earners are unable to pay these fees.
Some residents told National Times News that besides the fees, they do not use these toilets because of the hygienic conditions even in VIP toilets. These residents complain that the structures are not accessible to women and disables. As they were primarily designed for men. Besides, there few or no public toilets in administrative areas, where is it estimated that about 1000 persons visit a day.
Some residents told National Times News that when pressed by nature they prefer using dark corners or abandoned buildings. Some prefer going back home to use their private toilets.
While the government has spoken about addressing some of these challenges, those managing the toilets do not believe recent measures taken by the government will address some of the deep problems in the facilities. Mme Loiuse Atangana one of the managers of these facilities in Yaounde explains that she is renting this amenity from the government and pays a fee of about 50,000frs every three months.
She said renters face harassment by some police officers who refuse to pay the fare of 100frs or 200frs. Sometimes, users of these facilities dump items like toiletry pads of women which do not dissolve. In addition, there is often lack of constant flowing water, which force her to expend extra 1000frs everyday to supply water to her customers. These makes the business unprofitable.
Notwithstanding these challenges, she thinks the initiative by the government to subcontract these facilities to renters is helping the community create jobs and provide services to millions of residents in Yaoundé.
As the National Day approach, it is expected that the government will take additional measures to address these health and infrastructure crisis. It is also the responsibility of the society to properly manage these facilities for the health benefits of the public.