Cabinet has stopped toilet fees being charged on clients by owners of city arcades, saying it is exploitation.
The revelation was confirmed by Kampala Minister Betty Amongi yesterday.
“Today I notified traders of the statutory instrument that I will soon issue to abolish payments by tenants renting premises for using toilets. The Public Health Act mandates all buildings to provide toilet facilities free…,” Ms Amongi tweeted.
The minister explained that the Cabinet’s decision, which was made in November last year, was based on the advice of a sub-committee chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali, which was instituted by President Museveni to inquire into complaints by traders in arcades.
The traders had reported to Mr Museveni that they pay toilet fees to landlords yet they also pay rent for the premises. She noted that after thorough analysis, both by sub-committee members and Cabinet, it was unanimously agreed that every landlord of a commercial building must provide sanitation services to their tenants as per the Public Health Act.
“The Public Health Act specifies that when you are building any public structure, you are supposed to provide sanitation services. The sub-committee chaired by Gen Moses Ali shared the recommendations and they were debated extensively in Cabinet. Cabinet then resolved to abolish payment of toilet fees by tenants in city arcades,” she said.
However, she explained that Cabinet gave leeway to arcade owners to charge shoppers and passersby toilet fees not exceeding Shs200 to prevent strangers from invading the facilities.
“As a minister for Kampala, I was asked to enforce this Cabinet decision that tenants in all the public buildings whether commercial or public should be allowed to access toilets freely. I have already tasked my technical people to work on the instrument and it should be ready within three weeks,” she said.
The Cabinet resolution was welcomed with excitement by traders who said it was a great relief since they have been paying ‘double fees’. They asked the minister to expedite the process and make the resolutions known to all tenants.
“Although it is long overdue, we are happy government has finally listened to our plight. It is abnormal for a tenant to pay toilet fees yet they pay rental fees which can be used to maintain the toilets. We pray that it takes immediate effect,” a tenant at Qualicel Arcade, who preferred not to be named, said.
Apart from rental fees and toilet fees, traders also pay bills for utilities like power and water. They are also required to pay garbage collection fees.
A spot-check done by Daily Monitor on some city arcades found out that toilet services range from Shs200 to Shs300.
This means if a tenant visits a toilet three times a day, they pay between Shs600 and Shs900. If at least 100 tenants visit a toilet twice a day at Shs300 each, this translates into Shs60,000 per day.
Some landlords have contested the Cabinet decision. Mr Mansoor Matovu, alias Young, who owns several arcades in the city centre, said the directive would only make sense if government agreed to share utility costs with the landlords. He said the Cabinet directive is likely to hurt landlords.
“I don’t think that this directive will work because if we choose to open toilets to all, the situation will get worse. However, if government agreed to share some utility costs like water bills with us, there wouldn’t be any problem of letting tenants to use toilets freely. If we open those facilities for free, it is likely to spark a health crisis since they will be misused,” he warned.
Mr Matovu also accused governm ent of making decisions without engaging landlords.
He advised government through Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to construct more public toilets in the city to mitigate the current crisis, saying the city’s day population keeps increasing yet there is limited number of public toilets.
Ham Enterprises director Hamis Kiggundu said he would comply with the Cabinet decision to abolish toilet fees. “If Cabinet has ruled on something, who am I to oppose it? I will heed their directive,” he said by telephone.
Ms Amongi said KCCA resolved that for every new road to be constructed in the city, there should be a public toilet.
CITY PUBLIC TOILETS
Last year, Daily Monitor made a research and found out that the city has only 16 public toilets with limited manpower to clean them. These include; New Taxi Park (2), Watoto church (1), Constitutional Square (2), Entebbe Road next to Hardware City building (1), Railway grounds (1), Centenary Park (1), and Usafi market (2). All these are in Kampala Central Division. Others are Nakawa market (2) in Nakawa Division, Wandegeya Market (2) in Kawempe Division and Nateete (2) in Rubaga Division. Makindye Division has none. There is no official statistics of the number of people that visit these facilities.
However, we found out that it would require one to walk between five to 10 minutes to access them. As such, majority people prefer using private toilets at a fee to avoid walking long distances.
For instance, from Nakawa Market to Centenary Park, it is 3kms and it would require one to use 35 minutes on foot. There is no any other free public toilet between these places.