Most of the filthy public toilets in Phuentsholing that were once abandoned and forlorn have been bettered for use today.
And all these have been possible after Dr. Toilet, a private organization, started servicing the public toilets since last year. The organization has also added the much-needed facilities in the public toilets. The worn out facilities in those toilets are either being repaired or replaced with new ones.
The founder of Dr. Toilet, Kinley Tshering, said most of the public toilets were misused by users earlier. He added that he takes pride in helping the public by maintaining and keeping the toilets usable.
Dr. Toilet has bagged the repairing and maintenance responsibilities of 34 toilets in Thimphu, Paro, Phuentsholing and Wangduephodrang, including 24 toilets of works and human settlement ministry in the capital. The ministry provides a monthly maintenance budget to the organization. For the rest, the organization has employed fee collectors to sustain and Nu 5 is levied for a single use.
Without much support from the donors, Kinley Tshering said most of the expenditure is borne by him; expecting that he would receive returns later.
“Whatever earnings we receive from the users are also being spent on the maintenance of the toilets. So far I have not received much. I have personally funded every expense for the common cause,” he said.
The organization as of now has fixed all the broken doors and added required infrastructures in the public toilets. It has elevated the toilet pot a feet above the floor for users’ convenience. Now, it has also started providing toilet tissues and hand soap for users. Later, the organization plans to paint rusted iron doors. It has also fixed the broken taps and maintained a continuous flow of water.
“Though it’s a tough job, we take pride in what we do. We need youth to support us,” said Kinley Tshering, adding that they do not want to go seeking donations as people might take it otherwise.
Kinley Tshering, however, accepts funds from willing agencies. He has received material donations from the donors, for which he is thankful. He also received a seed fund to start his organization from the labor and human resources ministry last year.
Though, non-nationals used to maintain these public toilets earlier, he said maintenance was not done properly. They only provided basic services like cleaning and no facilities were added so far to the existing ones.
After having finished maintaining and renovating the out-of-order infrastructures in most of the toilets in its region, the organization is now planning to look after the maintenance of showers and other secondary facilities.
On increasing the fee for usage of public toilets, he said the change will be done based on the recommendation and compliance of the public. “We have not thought of it so far,” he added.
Meanwhile, users have also sensed the changes in the public toilets now. “It’s good to see improved conditions of the public toilets. Years ago most of them remained mostly dirty and were left unused,” a public toilet user said.
And apart from public toilets, Dr. Toilet also provides cleaning services of private toilets to private individuals as and when demanded. Their personnel clear the blockades and reinstall sewerage pipes in the town for certain charges.
Dr. Toilet also plans to expand its services to Samdrup Jongkhar and Gelephu in the future. “We have processed for approvals from the relevant organizations. Once we get we will start,” Kinley Tshering said.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing