When nature calls, people need toilets but in Mandera town, traders are decrying the lack of these vital facilities.
To them, lack of proper sanitation facilities such as toilets is like a ticking time bomb.
“We have been suffering at the bus park for a long time. The county government is busy collecting revenue from every entity and stall yet no service is offered to the traders,” Mr Hassan Adan, a trader at Mandera Bus Park, said.
He said some entrepreneurs have lost their merchandise to thieves as they went looking for toilets to relieve themselves.
“People are losing their goods here just because they went looking for a toilet far away,” he said.
And Ms Anne Kathure, a beautician, said since the current toilets were filled, the local administration had failed to build new ones or even drain the old ones.
“It is a struggle to use the filled up toilets. You either jump into a taxi and go back home or walk into a hotel and pretend to buy something just to use their toilet,” she said.
She said the county government has continued to charge them Sh20 to use the filled up and untidy toilets.
“We are at risk of contracting diseases as rains are approaching because the waste will start following everywhere and that will lead to a cholera outbreak at this market,” she said.
Ms Halima Ahmed Lakicha, a milk vendor at the Mandera bus park, says she is forced to walk about a half kilometre to Musdalifa hotel just to access a toilet.
In the Mandera bus park and the nearby market, there are at least four toilets that are not functioning according to Mr Hassan Ali, the traders association deputy chairman.
He said despite the filled up toilets, the county government has failed to provide and sustain the Covid-19 containment measures.
“Covid-19 is still with us but the county government has never provided the handwashing facilities at this market. We are left to survive despite requesting these necessary facilities,” he said.
But Mr Osman Ibrahim Mohamed, the Mandera County Chief Officer for Trade, Investment and Industrialization denied the claims by the traders.
“We have two twin toilets at the bus park that are functioning despite being manned by individuals. The individuals collect revenue on our behalf,” he said.
According to Mr Mohamed, those complaining of lack of toilets are a few individuals who are angling for free services.
Mandera town is among the few towns in the country that lack proper waste management and disposal plan.
There is no sewerage system in Mandera town and every home relies on a septic tank.
“We recently acquired two exhausters as a donation by the World Bank and we shall be draining all the filled up toilets in Mandera town,” Mr Mohamed said.
Reports have shown that a shortage of toilets contributes to diarrheal infections like cholera and dysentery.