Rs10. That’s the price the public will have to pay to use the public toilets at the Jardin de la Compagnie in Port Louis. The new charges have been in force since last week, following renovation works at the said facilities.
Lord Mayor Daniel Laurent explains that “the City Council received complaints regarding public toilet users not keeping the facilities clean and items being stolen. There was thus a demand for pay loos,” according to him. “Moreover, other towns already had similar schemes.”
The Lord Mayor also explains that a system of giving free toilet access to the hawkers operating at the Ruisseau du Pouce fair at the Jardin de la Compagnie is being considered. “We’re working on it and a motion might be presented at the next health committee.” Is there a risk that the homeless roaming the Jardin de la Compagnie might do their business around the garden itself, not being able to afford the Rs10. Laurent brushes these concerns aside. “Those who cannot afford to pay can still use the free toilets located on the premises of the City Council which aren’t too far away from the garden.”
A similar scheme has been implemented in other towns. In Curepipe for instance, a nominal fee of Rs5 has been charged since July 2014 at the toilets of the Jan Palach bus station. Hans Marguerite, the mayor of Curepipe explains that the north toilets are free while the south ones are not. Marguerite further argues that no distinction should be made between the two facilities in regards to cleanliness. “Even though a contractor is specifically employed to maintain the pay toilets, the maintenance of both facilities is paid for with public money. As such, they should both be in a good condition.” Is it actually the case though? Marguerite is more nuanced and half-heartedly admits that the same hygiene conditions might not prevail at both public toilets.
In Rose Hill, a fee has been in force at the public toilets of the bus station since 2013. Mayor Ken Fong finds the system to be “working very well”. “When you charge a fee, the users become more responsible. We’ve received very few complaints pertaining to the pay toilets, as opposed to the free ones,” he says. Fong concurs with his Curepipe counterpart in that a council ought to provide good services regardless of whether the facilities are free or not.
After the Jardin de la Compagnie, the public will have to pay for the public toilets at the Port Louis bazaar in the near future. “The charge is meant to be applied as from next week,” reveals Daniel Laurent.