Gas stations (or petrol pumps) in many countries around the world don’t only provide services to fill up gas or petrol for motorised vehicles -- they also serve as rest stops for travellers as they provide toilets, a general store, and sometimes even restaurants.
The toilets, general stores, and restaurants in gas stations help travellers get refreshed and charged up during their journey. The toilets, especially, ensure that travellers do not have to defecate in open areas, which would pollute the environment. Since, due to safety reasons, it is recommended not to be inside a vehicle while it is being filled with gas or petrol, the toilets, general stores, and restaurants provide travellers an alternative places to roam around while the vehicle is being topped up. These services not only benefit the travellers and the environment, but also the owner of the gas stations, as they get some extra revenue that way.
While commuting in Dhaka, many of us have felt the need to use a toilet. In such situations, we are sometimes able to use a toilet in nearby restaurants and shopping malls but most of the time we become helpless and have to wait it out. One thing is clear: The city severely lacks public toilets.
Public toilets are critical to the urban infrastructure that makes cities liveable; in fact, they are integral civic amenities. However, the number of public toilets catering to Dhaka’s immense population is pathetically low
Public toilets are critical to the urban infrastructure that makes cities liveable; in fact, they are integral civic amenities. However, the number of public toilets catering to Dhaka’s immense population is pathetically low. What is worse is that many of these are unclean and unhygienic, and even unusable.
The lack of public toilets is forcing city-dwellers to hold it in for long periods of time, and is also discouraging them from drinking water. Both in the short and long term, this may cause serious health problems. Sometimes, people are being forced to attend to nature’s call in open areas. Especially, people such as auto-rickshaw drivers, bus drivers, helpers, and ticket collectors of other motorised transport, often have to defecate in open areas. Thus, the lack of public toilets is polluting the environment.
The DNCC mayor Annisul Huq recently, while inaugurating two public toilets in the capital, stated that the DNCC had plans to build a total of 100 public toilets in the capital. Although this initiative by the DNCC is admirable, for a city of so many people, this still may not be sufficient.
Due to budget and space constraints, it may also not be possible for the DNCC to build more than 100 public toilets in the near future. Similar to other countries, if petrol pumps in Dhaka provide toilets, then the problem of a lack of public toilets in the city could be solved partially, as at least auto-rickshaw drivers, bus drivers, helpers, and ticket collectors would not have to defecate in open areas.
Since public toilets are not luxuries, but rather a necessity for public health and well-being, a law should be implemented to make it mandatory for petrol pumps to provide toilets. To ensure that cleaning and maintaining the toilets and providing security to the toilets does not become a burden for the petrol pumps, the pump stations may be allowed to earn extra revenue by opening a general store, or even a restaurant at their premises.
Though Dhaka is densely populated and one of the most unliveable cities in the world, it is the city that offers the best employment, education, and other services in Bangladesh. This is why the reality is that, despite all the hardships of living in Dhaka, people flock here from all over the country every day. With the limited land space and other resources of the city, every stake-holder needs to come forward to improve the living conditions in Dhaka. The petrol pumps can do their part by providing clean and hygienic toilets.
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