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Youth leaders seek audience with NMS following closure of city public toilets

By Mireri Junior | May 14th 2021

Police officers guard one of the closed public toilets in Nairobi’s CBD on Friday, May 14. [Standard]

Nairobi City youth and women groups that operate public toilets in Nairobi’s CBD have accused the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) of harassment a day after the sudden closure of the facilities. 

Speaking at OTC, Nairobi on Friday, May 14, Nairobi County public toilet association spokesperson Francis Macharia said NMS was yet to give them guidelines on how they fit the new arrangements since their takeover to warrant the shut.

He wondered why NMS shut the toilets before communicating to them yet they have not breached the four-year contracts signed with the county government to manage the facilities.

"We are law-abiding citizens and we pay our rents and bills on time and we are not in breach of the contracts that we signed with the county government. It's mischievous for city cartels to portray us as goons or ungovernable," added Macharia.

He urged NMS to respect their contracts with Nairobi County which is still valid to engage them before arriving at the unpopular decision.

“Even if the functions were transferred to NMS, we expected them to at least give us notice or engage us before asking us to vacate,” said Macharia.

Macharia urged NMS director-general Mohammed Badi to invite all stakeholders for a meeting to agree on the way forward.

Youth unemployment

He said the decision to shut the facilities should be rescinded because it will go against President Uhuru Kenyatta's agenda to create employment for the suffering youths.

"This is not what President Kenyatta wanted for the youths, most of us will lose our livelihood because of this rushed decision," he said.

Youth Chairman Kenneth Ndungu said there was no need of shutting the toilets because they are ready to be subjected to scrutiny and to comply with NMS’ regulations.

"Apart from hygienic maintenance of the facilities, the toilets have also been a source of livelihood directly or indirectly to over 700 families in Nairobi.

Women League Leader Mercy Mwilu said the issue of security as alleged by NMS officers is a ploy by opportunists and busybodies who want to mislead NMS to harass the youth.  

“It is shocking for NMS to declare our facilities as unsafe yet not even a single report of insecurity has been filed with the police for the years we have been in operation," added Mwilu.

The facilities were on May 13 closed, inconveniencing thousands of people who transit through the city and others who work in Nairobi.

The closure of the public toilets was conducted by police and Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) officers in a move that caught many within OTC, National Archives and Accra Road, unawares.

According to notices by NMS, after conducting the exercise, the facilities were shut because of security reasons.

The facilities are reported to have been closed after a recent clash between groups running them following failure by some members to contribute money meant for managing the toilets.

Further, 16 self-help groups wrote to NMS challenging the legality of those managing the facilities.

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