City residents keep away to avoid fight to control toilets

One of the public toilets in the central business district. [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]

Rival groups yesterday clashed over the control of public toilets in the city centre.

Residents were unable to use the facilities in the central business district after police officers were deployed to prevent the youths from kicking out the current operators.

The officers locked down toilets at OTC, Muthurwa and Country Bus Station.

The youth groups had taken over the running of the toilets but the operators obtained a court order instructing the police to ensure criminal gangs did not take over the facilities.

In an order seen by The Standard, the High Court ruled that the toilet operators, who were identified as Alika Designs and Cleaning Services Limited, Twenty Four Seven Ventures Limited, Marafiki Sacco Society Limited, Chege Mwangi, Joseph Karanja and George Kariuki should regain full control of the amenities.

“It is ordered that officers commanding stations at Central and other police stations provide backup to the first defendants and effect the order by preventing criminal gangs from taking over the suit premises pending hearing and determination of the suit,” read the court order.

The chairman of the Public Toilets Operators Association of Kenya, Tom Mkamale, said the youths had in the recent past taken over the toilets by force, prompting the decision to go to court.

Police deployed

“Goons took over the facilities illegally. The police were deployed to effect the court order by removing the gangs,” he said.

The early morning incident created confusion, with many residents taking to social media to speculate that the county government had taken over all the 68 public toilets.

However, the county environment executive, Larry Wambua, City Hall was not involved in the dispute.  

“The conflict was between the operators and youth groups, and the police were simply doing their job. We were not directly involved in the wrangles,” he said.

A fortnight ago, Governor Mike Sonko threatened to repossess all 68 public toilets due to conflict among the operators.

He said he would contract a company to run the amenities, consequently making the use of the toilets free for city residents.

Mr Wambua said City Hall was in the final stages of contracting the firm, adding that Nairobians would be informed when the deal was completed.

The toilets, which are managed through a public private partnership, earn City Hall approximately Sh1.2 million each month, which translates to Sh14.4 million annually.

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