Missing public toilets

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Imphal city is getting increasingly congested and busy. Traffic jams are becoming routine on practically every major road, but especially those that connect the two districts of the city, Imphal West and Imphal East. Even though Sanjenthong, the major link bridge between the two districts across the Imphal river has been reopened, the increase in congestion has shot beyond even this major increase in road capacity in the meantime that congestion, though not as bad as before, remains. It is anybody’s prediction that in a year or two, things may go beyond control or redemption, unless something is done fast by the government to augment the situation, for instance by introducing an efficient public transport system, so that private vehicles cease to be an absolute necessity as they have become now. City planners must take up this issue with earnest and urgently too.

It is however not just the increasing congestion which is Imphal’s bane. Equally, it is the clogged drainage system and piling filth and garbage everywhere which are suffocating the city. A great many issues are involved in this, including not the least the general civic sense and civic etiquette of the average citizen. They litter, spit and even urinate literally everywhere and anywhere they please. This coupled with the government’s insensitivity has ensured Imphal continues to be buried in its own waste, and suffocate in its own stink. It is said contemplating a mounting number of tasks which have become next to impossible to accomplish all at one go can be so intimidating that even the most proactive can be lulled into mediocrity or else complete inaction and surrender. We therefore would suggest the government to tackle only as much of the issues as it can humanly handle at a time, until all in turn have been addressed and resolved. It is encouraging in this regard to hear the government plans to once again introduce the no parking norm within Imphal’s main bazars, although we are quite uncertain how this can be accomplished unless legal parking areas are first demarcated. Sadly Imphal city core does not have large enough space to designate as parking area anymore to accommodate its rising number of cars. Perhaps it is time, as we have always suggested, for the government to encourage everybody to park their cars at home for use only when it is absolutely necessary, and instead to bring out their bicycles for more routine city navigation.

But there is one more thing the government can do immediately. Everybody in Imphal would have noticed there are virtually no toilet facilities in the entire city (forget so called civilised terms as washrooms). No it does not even have to be toilets. Just urinals will do 90 percent of the job. Toilets would be needed at vending places where vendors remain whole days, but urinals would be for everybody, visitors, shoppers, vendors and all else. To expect the public not to urinate in the open at public places without first giving them urinals would be like asking vehicle users not to park their cars anywhere they please without designating them a legal place to park. It may even be a good idea for these facilities to be outsourced to those who are interested in running them commercially. No point arguing that Government run facilities will degenerate in no time till they become unsightly and unusable. The upkeep of commercially run private facilities on the other hands will be guaranteed to a great extent. Such a project will also mean job creation. One example will convince anyone how this holds possibilities of becoming a successful enterprise, benefiting the government, the entrepreneurs, the public and therefore public health as such. A decade ago, when government run garbage collectors of the Imphal Municipality were the only resort for private homes to dispose of their kitchen wastes, these homes were in despair for the garbage collectors were for most of the time conspicuous by their absence. The government then came up with the great idea of outsourcing this responsibility to private parties, and now a big headache has been taken care of for Imphal homes.

It will indeed be worthwhile for the government to give this thought a serious consideration. Invite private parties to run these public facilities. We are sure there will be many takers, and equally sure all of Imphal will breathe a sigh of relief and willing pay to use these facilities as and when they need to, and there can be no gainsaying that everybody would have felt this need, sometimes desperately, sometime or the other.

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