Court order on public toilets along roads laudable

Environmental conservation is a key concern of the Jubilee administration. Focus, however, seems to be on taking people out of the Mau Forest and enforcing a logging ban.

The ungainly sight of people rushing to relieve themselves in bushy areas along major roads has never registered as an environmental concern, or a serious health hazard that could spread diseases yet it is.

In Kenya, long distance travellers are occasionally forced to answer the call of nature, but do not find requisite amenities along the roads. Ideally, such amenities are the responsibility of the government, but have been missing for a long time. There is not a single public toilet along the Nairobi-Kisumu or Kakamega-Eldoret highways. In well organised jurisdictions, governments not only maintain roads, they have built designated stopovers at regular intervals where travellers relieve themselves, buy snacks and stretch their muscles to get rid of cramps.

The recent High Court order to the government to build public toilets along major roads therefore comes as a great relief to travellers.

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But despite devolution, county governments have also failed to put such into consideration. Nakuru County has outlawed the practice of travellers relieving themselves in bushes along major roads within its jurisdiction. But while that is good, the county failed to offer an alternative to the widespread problem by building public toilets. With the pay-to-use toilets operational across the country, county governments could generate revenue out of them while keeping the environment clean. Above all, the order should be enforced.

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