This government too appears to have got its precedence mixed up. The previous government too instead of carrying out activities to solve the imperative evils of people exhausted billions of rupees on issues which were much less significant and imperative. Some major issues that should be addressed are drinking water, threat to farmers by wild elephants, marketing harvest, chronic kidney decease which cause several adverse long-run socio-economic impacts which influence health, education and many other aspects of the rural population and, of course, the job market. A very grave priority although addressed by President has not been able to get off the blocks the important toilets scarcity.
President Maithripala Sirisena has publicly lamented that there are many schools without toilets. A National Water Supply and Drainage Board survey revealed a few years ago that about 1,300 primary and secondary schools did not have proper sanitary facilities. This figure should be much higher now. Two civil society outfits have disclosed that there are schools where students are discouraged from drinking water for want of toilets and this practice has rendered those hapless children prone to renal diseases. It is reported that absenteeism is widespread among girls in certain schools during menstruation, they have pointed out. This is a negative denunciation on the two main parties which have closed ranks to rule the country for decades.
It is a fact that our education system has innumerable auxiliary fundamentals as all know. Functional, hygienic acceptable toilets have never been in the minds of the politicians because they do not believe in a ceremonial opening of the toilet slab to spectacle their merchandise. What schoolchildren go through is wretched undeniably pitiable in relation to counterparts in developed countries. Even in central London there are toilets along the pavements hence it is indeed compassion that we are deprived of them.
Although tourism is constantly promoted by all governments, there are absolutely no clean toilets for that matter any toilet along roads and towns, apart from in the small hotels on the wayside which are not at all hygienic. Hence one has to hold up for hours to answer a call of nature.
In complete contrast as a Sri Lankan who is fortunate to live in Australia wishes to state that there are more than 14,000 public and private hygienic toilet facilities across the country. This is shown in a National public toilet map prepared by the state useful generally for all people and to those with incontinence and for those who travel with small children. Useful information is provided about each toilet, location, opening hours, availability of baby change rooms, accessibility for disabled persons and also about parking facilities.
On the contrary, leaving alone the tourists, the Sri Lankans who travel long distances by buses are subjected to stress and anxiety when needed to answer a call of nature. Here the most affected and destitute are the females. It is time our politicians realized that public toilets are more significant than building international playgrounds and even airports to meet the voiding needs of the people when on the roads.
We do know that lack of public toilets could result in social isolation and generate sophistication for daily life which would cause low self-esteem and depression predominantly for those with bladder or bowel management. In this context, this category of people is reluctant to get out to the roads as they panic of their dilemma.
In the context of the above, the need for public toilets should be a priority, a vital matter not also addressed by earlier governments. It is time that the Yahapalanaya government without jumbling priorities to seriously launch a project island-wide to contemplate on this dire concern.
Sunil Thenabadu Brisbane, Australia