By KINGSLEY ADEGBOYE
THE habit of open urination and defecation by members of the public is one of the unhygienic acts that could jeopardise the government’s vision of transforming Lagos State into a tourist haven.
This view was canvassed by stakeholders who gathered last week at a day advocacy and sensitisation campaign put together by the Lagos state Ministry of The Environment.
The wife of the Governor, Mrs.Abimbola Fashola described public defecation and urination as two habits that everybody must fight against because they affect the citizenry negatively.
“Besides looking unhealthy and smelling foul, both actions are harmful to the health of residents as they are easy ways to contact diseases such as typhoid and cholera, she said and appealed to Lagos residents to desist from the uncivilised act.
Mrs Fashola recalled that “over the years, the government had made commendable efforts to reduce incidence of open urination and defecation through some of its programmes and policies such as construction of public toilets and introduction of the Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI”.
Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello decried the unwholesome act. “It is so sad to see our men and women folk urinate and defecate in the open, a habit that should be discouraged,” he lamented.
According to Bello, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF recently reported that out of the 2.5 billion who live without adequate sanitation around the world, 33 million Nigerians have no access to decent toilets. As a result of this inadequacy, citizens of Africa’s most populous nation answer the call of nature in the open, he further lamented.
Describing the cost of open defecation and urination on health as too grave and monumental, Bello said it is too much to be ignored because it does not only pollute underground waters, it also contaminates agricultural produce and aid the spread of diseases such as diarrhea, ascaris, tapeworms, intestinal parasites, hookworm, hepatitis’ among others.
“As a result of these, infant and child under-nutrition and stunted growth are also aggravated. Most striking are the 2,000 children who die every day across the world from diarrhea and other preventable diseases caused by poor sanitation”.
Inadequacy of water
He noted that Lagos State with over 20 million people contends with the challenges of inadequacy of water and sanitation, due to neglect of several years and migration of people from other parts of the country.
“In an effort to keep a healthy and sustainable environment in the state, the present administration has been in the vanguard for the provision of public toilets to ease the sanitation challenge across the state.
In pursuit of this desire, a total of over 570 public toilets currently exist in the State, which without any doubt is grossly inadequate. The daily influx of people into the state and the massive stretch on existing infrastructure has shown that Government cannot do it alone”, Bello added.
He therefore called on individuals, groups, corporate organizations to collaborate with the state government as well as engage in private investment to complement government effort.