By Stephen Kalema
Arcade owners have vowed to defy directives that they should stop charging toilet fees.
The one-week notice by Kampala Capital City Authority to owners of arcades follows President Museveni’s earlier directive, during a visit to the city markets early this month, to stop charging tenants toilet fees.
In its notice KCCA said it is to start conducting inspections to ensure compliance by business owners and landlords in providing free access to sanitary facilities.
However, as of Thursday, October 25, many arcade owners in downtown Kampala insisted on levying fees before toilets are accessed.
“The Management of Kampala Capital City Authority hereby issues a reminder to property owners, tenants and the public at large that access to toilet facilities in buildings such as arcades, markets and public places among others must be free,” a statement from KCCA reads.
Peter Kaujju, the KCCA Spokesperson said that several meetings have been held with arcade owners reminding them to avail free toilets to traders who rent their buildings. Now they have one week to comply
“KCCA is aiming at nothing else but to make it hard for us to live in this city. This is where we get money so that we can also be able to pay taxes which taxes pay them. I do not see this directive taking off,” a middle aged man, stationed in front of an arcade toilet door said.
He was seen collecting money and issuing change to tenants who wanted to ease themselves.
Henry Katamba, a tenant at Mutaasa Kafeero Arcade said the practice of paying for toilets has been there even before KCCA and that toilet attending is now a job of its own.
“This building has five floors with five toilets. Each has attendants that collect fees that help in maintaining them. These attendant are paid and that is how they have managed to survive. But if KCCA abolishes payment of these fees, then we are going to see these people jobless and that’s not development,” Katamba said.
To access toilet services in most of the arcades in town, one has to pay between Shs300-500 depending on how long one will use the facility.
For example, Ali Kayiima a toilet cleaner in one of the arcades, sometimes one might pay up to Shs100 in case they have problems which require repetitive use such as diarrhea.
All toilets have different owners who employ the likes of Kayiima to clean and collect money. These owners usually win tenders which are advertised annually.
Also, some of the tenants believe that paying toilet fees should be the last of KCCA’s worries.
“Toilet fees have helped us to live in healthy environment since we pay to have clean toilets. If KCCA bans this, who will pay for their cleaning?” a tenant with a shop on Mabirizi Plaza inquired, warning KCCA to go slow on this matter.
“We have a lot of problems such as high power bills. Why focus on toilets? KCCA has abolished a lot of things but but fail to give us proper substitutes.”
This is not the first directive issued by KCCA in regards to toilet charges.
In June 2012, KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi ordered for the scrapping of toilet charges in commercial structures. Ms Musisi also directed KCCA officials to stop issuing licenses for running toilet facilities located in commercial buildings.
Due to the resistance from arcade owners and city politicians from the ruling NRM party, her directives fell on deaf ears.
Some of the shopping arcades, and malls that charge toilet fees include; Nalule Arcade, Energy Centre, Zainabu Aziiza Emporium, Maria’s Galleria City Complex, Galiraya, Mabirizi and Majestic Plaza.