'Disabled-friendly' toilet not friendly enough

Published On: November 10, 2017 05:00 AM NPT By: Pooja Bista

KATHMANDU, Nov 10: The first ever 'Accessible Public Toilet' at Bhrikutimandap in the center of Kathmandu, which is supposed to be meant mainly for people with disabilities, is actually said to be unsuitable for them. 

People with disabilities hardly go to the toilet to respond to nature's call. However, the authorities are unaware of the problem faced by the people with disabilities.

A Memorandum of Understanding to build the toilet was signed on 19th Nov 2015 by the Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN) with the Social Welfare Council (SWC). 

Krishna Kumari, 64, who uses a crutch, said, “Though it is supposedly a disabled-friendly toilet, there are no separate toilets for male and female which made me uncomfortable at times”. She added that the design of the toilet and the commode too is not suitable for disabled people like her.

“Reaching the toilet is a real struggle due to the distance and obstacles. There are no ramps or slabs in front of the toilet door. As a result, they have to seek help from the pedestrians to find a proper place from where they can get to the toilet," she further added.

The SWC contracted out the disabled-friendly toilet to RK Builders on October 13 for the third time. RK Builders pays SWC Rs 116,199 per month.

“We are earning only about Rs 45,000 per month from the toilet. It is free of cost for people with disabilities,” said Tirtha Bahadur Ghorai, who won the tender, is looking after the toilet with a doleful smile, adding, “It is hard to pay money to SWC with extra charges, as well.” He further added that just about four people with disability visit the toilet daily on average.

The former coordinator of Disability Working Group/ AIN Saurav Sharma said, “We have constructed this accessible public toilet which is unisex to meet the specific needs of the people with disabilities. This would serve as a model for other accessible public toilets too”.

He added that the construction of slab in front the toilet gate is the work of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. “It is a public property and we can't construct the slab destroying a public property.”

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