If something is not good enough, go and change it. If you can’t change it, seek help but change it.
It was my turn to design a social service activity yesterday afternoon at the Royal Academy. My team knew I would certainly point at a toilet, because ever since I founded Bhutan Toilet Org I have been after toilets like Romeo.The plan was to whitewash the wall, scrub the pots and tiles, educate the caretaker and make the only public toilet in Paro town worth Nu.5 it charges per use.
I requested Dasho Dzongrab, Kinley Gyeltshen for approval and he in turn instructed Mu¬nicipal authority to assist us. From the municipal we under-stood that Paro didn’t have a wet sweeper after the one they had, died. The current caretaker is an employee who is assigned toilet duty on Sundays. The only sew-age truck is broken down.
But I made it clear to the Executive Engineer of the Mu¬nicipal office that we were going beyond complaining, by becom¬ing a part of the solution.
The condition of the toilet however shocked my team. The door was locked with count-less dents of break in attempts. There was a fresh poop right at the door. No portion of the wall was spared from doma stains. The two sinks and four toilet pots were coated with thick layer of deposits. God knows how some poop went right up on the wall. The only remain¬ing two flush tanks were filled with bottles and sanitary pads. The caretaker used the useless bathrooms for scrap collection. The worst was what lies behind the toilet; all the connections to septic tank were blocked and therefore sewage has been over-flowing straight into open drain for years. The drains have even¬tually disappeared under over-growth and you can see fresh yellow all over the green.
Any logical person with au¬thority would recommend de¬molishing of the out-of-hand eyesore standing in between taxi stand and vegetable mar¬ket, two populated areas. But we were there to rescue it. We whitewashed the wall first and our artist Nima Tshering wrote “A Clean Toilet!” and that was what we went there for.
The 14 of us dug, swept, brushed, scrubbed, and washed in our effort to make this toilet worth paying Nu.5. After three hours the inside of the toilet started glittering but tones of poop behind the toilet didn’t seem like something we could deal with.
The only institution that could help was fire department of the Police. We made a few calls and big red fire truck ap¬peared. The three firefighters went out of their ways to help us.
The clean toilet that we as¬pired was ready. But in two days we didn’t want all our effort to be covered in again. The Mu-nicipality already said they were running short of manpower to look after the toilet. But the ex¬ecutive engineer readily agreed to allow us to hand it over to some organization that could take better care of it.
That’s when my team thought of Chithuen Phenday Associa¬tion. Paro Municiapl Author¬ity agreed to handover, and Chithuen Phenday agreed to takeover. The orphan toilet fi¬nally got adopted. Anybody mis¬using the public property will be held responsible and if the culprits are not found then the association will be help respon¬sible.
The toilet will be handed over formally in few days after the plumbing damages are fixed but ownership and accountability are transferred with immediate effect. Paro will hereafter have the best Public toilet in the country. Other Dzongkhags are encouraged to follow the Paro model or innovate better strate¬gies to make their public toilets less terrifying.
The writer also known as Pas¬su is a teacher at Bajothang Higher Secondary School