ISLAMABAD: Save your business for later. That would be the most helpful thing one could tell a tourist in Islamabad looking for a public restroom, some of which could give pigsties a bad name.
“If I need to go to use a toilet, I will never go to these stinking and dilapidated public washrooms,” said Tariq, a government servant roaming in Super Market.
According to Capital Development Authority (CDA) Spokesman Ramzan Sajid, there are 80 public restrooms in the capital. However, only about 20 are in working order.
The rest of the washrooms would seem more in place in a war zone, with defaced walls and stall doors, and often no water or electricity. The CDA is running these washrooms by subletting to contractors on set division and there are eight sets in Islamabad, said Sajid.
The restrooms in the busy markets like Super Market, Jinnah Super, Aabpara, Karachi Company, Peshawar Mor, and G-10 Markaz are somewhat better maintained.
However, the rest of the toilets are dark, stinking and reeking with filth, with no water or proper staff for their upkeep. “This is third consecutive week that there has been no running water at the restroom, so we just go to the nearby stream and ‘do our thing’ in the open air,” said Hamza at a roadside tea stall in sector I-9/4.
The condition of washrooms is a huge problem for women who visit markets. “Many people, especially women, just come in to use the washroom as the public toilets are in very bad shape,” said the cashier at a medical store in Blue Area.
A woman at Super Market said that the government should be using taxpayer money to provide people with such basic necessities. “If they cannot do so, then they have no right to rule.”
While she spoke, the air was enveloped by the stench of a dead animal being dragged towards a garbage pile near the public toilets in Jinnah Super.
The washrooms at Blue Area, Secretariat, Kohsar Market, Abbas Market, Najam Market and G-8/1 remain closed most of the time, while some of the busiest spots like Faizabad have no such ‘facilities’ at all.
The only real solution seems to be come from members of the public. Some washrooms are being run by the people living nearby.
The toilet at G-7/3 is run by a local businessman. “We pay the bills, provide the water through our own pumping machine and look after it,” said Mubashir, the businessman.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2013.