Editorial | (Dis)comfort rooms

THE CITY council just opened a gender-neutral comfort room at the ground floor of the City Council building. This is said to accommodate all, regardless of gender orientation-the first of such kind in a government office.This is also to ease the queue of people lining up in comfort rooms while waiting for their business transactions in the city’s offices.

Beyond having a gender neutral comfort room, which is laudable, by the way, we should first look into the lack of comfort rooms in the city or this very unfortunate habit of people to relieve themselves anywhere – in walls, posts, and shrubs. We don’t know if the culprit is the absence of accessible toilets or that people have become so inured in doing it anywhere without compunction.

The city has to look into the comfort rooms in malls, stores and business establishments offering food, because truly, a person can barely find comfort in these spaces. In many instances, the stink from the toilet reeks so bad and the floor inside the stalls are so dirty, one becomes fearful to use it for health reasons. Only very few malls clean the toilets every so often and even if they do, the water for flushing which is recycled (sometimes the system fails), is so foul-smelling.

Restaurants inside malls should also ensure that their toilets are clean and sanitary.  The cleanliness of the toilet is a reflection of the cleanliness of the restaurant. Not fixing broken toilets immediately is no excuse.

In schools and universities, comfort rooms should be part of the inspection done by school authorities or government agencies. We do not have the ratio of students to comfort rooms in the city but the state of comfort rooms in some schools is simply horrifying. How can we teach the youth proper toilet etiquette when there is no decent comfort room in some schools to speak of?

Teaching how to properly use the toilet, like all other values, starts at home. This is where children are taught not to step on the toilet seat; that they should flush after each use; that they should avoid getting the floor wet, etc. Young children should also be taught that they could not just pee anywhere there is a small space to hide.

In urban poor settlements, especially in the coastal areas of the city where there is hardly a comfort room, government agencies have to step in now, before the gulf becomes too unhealthy for man and marine life.

So while we welcome the move of the city council to have a gender neutral comfort room, we exhort them to work on building more public comfort rooms and in ensuring that existing laws on comfort rooms are implemented. The general state of our comfort rooms mirrors the city’s care for health and sanitation.

Posted in Opinion