Filthy public toilets in bus stands, raise hygiene concerns

BMTC City Health

Passengers are charged for using urinals though the signs say it is free

Commuters complain of filthy latrines in Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus terminals. Many female commuters refrain from using these toilets fearing possible infection.

Swetha, a frequent user of one of the busiest bus terminals, Kempegowda Bus Station, also known as Majestic, said, “The toilets provide only minimal facilities and are not always clean,” Also, she complained about how during peak hours, people have to wait in long queues to access them.

In addition to their unsanitary condition, public latrines in major bus stations lack proper infrastructural facilities. Veena, a commuter from Shanthi Nagar Bus Terminal, complained of broken urinals, missing basin, and leaking taps.

Data from WHO report on sanitation.

Gynaecologist, Dr. Shalini Mahapatra said, “Most of the public toilets are not clean, there are high chances of getting a urinary infection if they are not cleaned properly after every use. Females are more prone to urinary infections as their urethra is short and this prevents many female commuters from using public toilets while traveling.”

Lakshmi, a medical student from Kerala, said, “Most of the time I avoid using these public toilets but it becomes hard during periods when I am forced to use them. Many toilets fail to provide dustbins for proper disposal of sanitary napkins.”

The latrines in the recently-built Kalasipalyam Bus Terminus, have no dustbin to dispose of sanitary napkins, and napkins are found lying on toilet floors and inside the flush tank. “The doors of these toilets had obscene texts written on them,” complained a commuter.

According to the Road Transport Corporations Act of 1950, the corporation is expected to allocate a certain percentage of its net annual profits to provide amenities to passengers and its employees.

“The civil section of BMTC deals with the construction of toilets but its maintenance is in the hands of tender holders,” said Girish, Junior Assistant of Public Relations Department, BMTC. “The tenders for cleaning and maintenance of toilets at bus terminals are given to private individuals usually for a contract period of three years and they hire staff for housekeeping,” he added.

Nagendra, Divisional Controller of Kempegowda bus station said, “The tender for cleaning the toilets in the bus station expired six months ago, and at present the contract is given on a temporary basis to private individuals.” “New tender for maintenance of toilets will be called in two to three months,” he added.

The janitor at Kempegowda bus terminal said, “There are two staff for housekeeping. We usually clean the toilets twice daily, once in the morning and again at night, and on occasion, we may also clean at noon.”

A contractor in charge of one of the latrines at the Kempegowda bus terminal said, “The shortage of rainfall has led to the decrease in underground water level in the borewells, which in turn led to the shortfall of water available for cleaning toilets. We are now running with a limited quantity of water.” He also complained about how users leave the toilets dirty. “Many leave sanitary napkins and condoms in the toilet bowl which leads to its blockage,” he said.

Dr. Usha Manjunath, Professor and Director of Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Bangalore, said, “Supervision, survey, and monitoring of the functioning of the toilets has to be done regularly. Basic facilities like basins, access to water and soap, dustbins with lids, exhaust fans, doors and latches, hooks to hang handbags, sanitary napkins, and electric incinerators for disposing of used napkins should be ensured in public toilets.” She added that the public should also be sensitized to keep the toilets clean after use.

Operators at most bus terminals charge passengers for using urinals. Sindhu, a commuter at Majestic Bus station said, “I was charged Rs. 5 for using urinals though the board outside says it is free.” The signage in these toilets indicates that the usage of flush toilets incurs a fee of Rs. 5, whereas urinals are free.