The Federal Capital Territory is set to build public toilets along highways in the city in order to reduce open defecation.
This was made known on Tuesday by the Deputy Director Head of Water Supply of Federal Capital Territory Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Chinelo Ebrike
Ms Ebrike said the agency would also build public toilets in schools, health centers and markets to fight the menace.
She disclosed this in Abuja at the premiere of a video documentary, ‘Echoes of the People’, a two-year engagement in grass-root communities by HipCity Innovation within the six area councils in the FCT documenting their needs and telling their stories with the aim of getting a desired solution from the government.
“Some people believe that to defecate in the open, they want to receive fresh air. You see some people when they visit their villages, they have toilets but they will take a walk into the bushes and defecate. For some, it may be the non-availability of toilets. In the city, we do not have public toilets for people to defecate.
“We are having an approach as we have come on board now, we are going to build toilets in all those institutions. In the schools there should be toilets, in health care centres there should be toilets, in the markets there should be toilets and on the highways, if you are moving from Kubwa to the city, there is no toilet along the road and somebody can be pressed. We are coming with all these things but we need to liaise with other sister agencies and development control to be able to give the land”, she said.
Ms Ebrike noted that RUWASSA started operating in January 2021 and has since visited 10 communities in Bwari Area Council out of which three have been declared open defecation free.
“We are taking it to wards, then from area council to area council. We started in Bwari and we have visited about 10 communities. We started preaching behavioural change and we have been able to declare some of these communities open defecation free such as Kuchigoyi, Zuma 1 and Zuma 2. The other seven are ongoing and have achieved at 80% stage of achieving its open defecation free status,” she said.
To determine if a community is open defecation-free, she said the national or state, or local government task force on sanitation will go round to ascertain if open defecation has been stopped within a certain period of time.
According to her, the agency also assesses communities’ sanitation facilities and provides time for when they can build their toilet.
Meanwhile, at the screening, Bassey Bassey, executive director HipCity Innovation Centre, disclosed that the area councils except Abuja Municipal Area council do not have functioning websites.
He recounted the challenges encountered by the NGO in accessing public documents and government officials of the area councils.
The six area councils in the Federal Capital Territory include Bwari, Kuje, Abaji, Gwagwalada, Kwali and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
“We have six area councils in the FCT. Maybe AMAC at one time had a functional website but the other five do not have a website or social media platform and often times if we try to write letters, they get lost in transit. These are the challenges.
“There are a lot of private organisations that want to work with you but you are not opening up your doors to them. We have gotten to a time where we will name and shame. We are not saying it is easy but we want the people to be included in the processes,” Bassey said.
Checks by PREMIUM TIMES after this claim showed that all the area councils except AMAC do not have websites. Although Kwali, Bwari, and Abaji opened Facebook accounts, they were last active on March 9, 2020, May 14, 2020, and October 29, 2019, respectively.
Mr Bassey noted that before local government areas or area councils are granted autonomy, one basic question they must answer is what they have done with the funds disbursed to them over the years.
“I tell you that in the last two years, each time we try to access the budget of an area council, you either have to find someone who works within the area council and tip the person to photocopy the budget. You won’t find the budget anywhere,” he added.
Mr Bassey said documentary was about gathering people’s voices to let the government know their plights because more attention is placed on the federal and state governments and not on the local government that drives grassroot development.
Residents across the six area councils in Abuja have complained about government’s continued neglect to provide them basic amenities for survival.
The documentary indicated the concerns of residents across the area councils from lack of clean water, electricity supply, health facilities affecting women and children alongside poor road network especially in the rural areas.
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