Let’s talk about something dirty. Before your mind goes to the gutter, this is about public toilets.
I try to avoid public toilets because the thought of random people sharing that same space as me grosses me out. We all have different biology and anatomy, different fluids and excretions, and different habits and mannerisms. Therefore, I prefer to use the bathrooms in my house where I am familiar with the other people who use them. However, when nature calls, sometimes I have to use public restrooms.
My travels have taught me a lesson when it comes to public toilets: always have your own tissue with you! I have traveled around the world to some dodgy places and even some glam places where the toilets did not have toilet paper so I have learned to always carry my own. There is nothing more irritating than using the toilet and realizing that there is no tissue or wet wipes to clean up. I stay prepared!
I spent the holiday period in Nigeria as an “I just got back (IJGB)” and had a great time as always. Traffic, heat, food, fuel scarcity and whatever else IJGBs typically complain about do not bother me much. It is all part of my homely experience. Nonetheless, please permit me to have my one IJGB complaint that surprisingly many people fail to talk about. The public restroom situation in Nigeria is terrible. Horrible. Gross. I can’t shout, but it sucks!
I suspect that many Nigerians are accustomed to how bad the situation is so they plan accordingly. I also have to do the same whenever I am in Nigeria. There are insufficient public restrooms. For example, a market woman works all day in the heat and has to go in the corner of a stall to do the deed. If she is lucky, there might be a concealed toilet in the market but I cannot imagine the condition of that toilet. Not okay.
I recall a few years back seeing disturbing pictures of toilets at NYSC camps. Definitely not okay. All over Lagos you see men of all ages urinating by the road. Men are lucky because they can effectively pee standing up. Still not okay.
In Lagos, I have entered many establishments like restaurants and banks and their restrooms are not up to standard. For instance, you will go to a nice restaurant and their toilet will still leave you with much to be desired. A toilet is a necessity. Should a proper upkeep not be equally considered when developing and managing an establishment?
I cannot simply always wait until I get home to use the toilet and I should not have to. In the US, I can guarantee that most places I go to will have a toilet that is at least satisfactory (although some are also disgusting). Therefore, my bladder is not something that I really think about when I am in the US like I have to in Nigeria. I am one of those people that drink a glass of water and have to pee. Therefore, when I go out in Nigeria I result to drinking a lot less, which can lead to dehydration, because I do not want to hold my pee for long or feel dirty because I used the toilet.
I am writing this complaint for the men and women who are constantly hustling outside, people with bladder issues, and generally everyone who has to deal with the toilet situation. In 2016, even in some houses the landlord will not provide a standard toilet for their tenants. There are major problems the country is facing, but this toilet situation is one that we can easily work together to improve. It is time to make clean and usable toilets a standard in our society.
It is time to hold landlords, businesses and government accountable to keep us feeling safe and clean. Rich or poor, when nature calls we all have to abide. I cannot be the only one that is aware of this problem or have had bad toilet experiences. Let’s speak up and demand better.
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