The Sh50 million a month ‘potty wars’ in Nairobi raised a new stink as two groups engaged in a pitched battle yesterday in a management row.
Police were called in to quell the chaos that erupted after two groups sought control of public toilets in the town centre.
The battle to control the lucrative city toilets business has sucked in Governor Mike Sonko, who has vowed to take them over to offer free services to city residents.
Sonko last month outlined plans to revert 68 public toilets in the CBD to the county government to ease operations and management.
City Hall has accused those in charge of the facilities of corruption and mismanagement.
Toilet operators charge Sh10 to users but Nairobi Environment executive Larry Wambua says the county will take over the management and contract one private firm to run all the toilets.
“There are many toilets in Nairobi and the amount they collect individually varies depending on the location. Some make Sh20, 000 and others Sh40,000 daily,” said Wambua.
Nairobi’s CBD has 68 public toilets, 17 in densely populated areas and 51 are in sparsely populated regions.
Fees charged in the 17 toilets amount to Sh680,000 a day and Sh20.4 million a month. It is estimated that from the 68 toilets in the city, private individuals collect an estimated Sh1.9 million daily, translating to about Sh56.8 million a month, and more than Sh680 million a year.
The other 51 toilets fetch Sh1.02 million a day, equivalent to Sh30.6 million a month.
Wambua defended City Hall’s move to reclaim the toilets, saying this would safeguard residents from constant conflict between different groups.
He said next week, the county would put an advertisement to allow competitive bidding so that a single firm could take over management.
“In the next one or two months, the toilets will be under a single form contracted by the county government to offer free services. They will be maintaining the premises cleanliness,” he said.
The head of City Inspectorate Department Peter Mbaya told People Daily the move would help provide uninterrupted free services to residents.
During yesterday’s standoff, residents seeking to use public toilets were forced to look for alternative facilities as security personnel cordoned off the lavatories.
The row between two rival groups caught many users unawares, including traders and early risers rushing to work.
One group armed with court orders sought to regain control from another, which had taken over the management of the facilities.
The toilets at OTC, Muthurwa, Machakos Country Bus Station and Bus Station remained inaccessible throughout the morning, giving potential users a hard time.
Public Toilets Operators Association of Kenya chairman Tom Makale said some youths illegally took over the toilets, prompting them to seek legal redress.
Meanwhile, County Devolution Chief Officer Vesca Kangogo said a Sh168 million state-of-the-art fire station in Embakasi West would be in operation by April next year.
“It is the only fire station to be constructed in post-independent Kenya. Residents will access clean water from a local borehole since not all water will be used for fires,” she said.