State ordered to build toilets for road travellers

It is not unusual to see a driver or a passenger dash to a bush behind a street or walk behind a vehicle to answer to the call of nature.

This might end soon, as the High Court has ordered the Government to constitute a committee to come up with a roads policy that will ensure travellers have toilets on the road sides countrywide.

Justice Kossy Bor directed the State to come up with a policy that would guarantee every person using Kenya’s road network reasonable access to decent toilets and sanitation facilities.

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Justice Bor concurred with lawyer Adrian Kamotho that there was need to have toilets on the roadsides, as most Kenyans would stop their vehicles and go into thickets to relieve themselves.

The Environment Court judge observed that the Government had a mandate to ensure Kenyans enjoyed their right to health and at the same time protected the environment from activities that were likely to harm it.

“The Constitution obligates the State to eliminate things that are likely to endanger environment. Such processes include road users relieving themselves in bushes and open spaces along the road. The State needs to provide clean and decent toilets for road users to relieve themselves while on their journeys to give effect to the right to a clean and healthy environment,” ruled Bor.

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She observed that roads authorities ought to construct pedestrian walkways, cyclist lanes and procure services or make arrangement with other entities like counties to provide services to road users. She said the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) and Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) could seal a deal with counties to construct the amenities.

Kamotho turned to the Bible and the Constitution to argue his case.

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He urged the court to read Deuteronomy 23:12-13: “1Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.”

The Holy Book explains that you should cover poo and pee so that the Lord, who is to protect you, does not see anything unholy that would make him turn away.

He asked the judge to order that the toilets be free.

The judged declined to issue the order, saying the law allows counties and government agencies to charge a fee for their services.

Call of nature

According to the lawyer, users of highways are forced to respond to the call of nature in full glare of other commuters while women and girls face the biggest dilemma and agony when such a need comes.

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He said some used paper bags and human waste containers, which were then flung through the windows of moving vehicles.

“Road users in public highways have no way of disposing of human waste flowing from their biological functions. They end up relieving themselves in bushes and on the roadsides, which is inhumane and degrading. Responding to a call of nature is an inevitable human process, which citizens have entirely no control over,” he argued

The lawyer wanted court to order that the toilets be built within 60 days. But the judge said it would be impractical, as such infrastructure needed money, but which had not been allocated.

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High Court