Workers demand new life is breathed into automated toilets in Abu Dhabi to improve facilities in the capital

Calls to bring neglected toilets across Abu Dhabi back to life in a bid to improve facilities for tourists and shoppers.
The programme of 2008 to build 60 public toilets across Abu Dhabi did not deliver the facilities needed. Ravindranath K / The National
The programme of 2008 to build 60 public toilets across Abu Dhabi did not deliver the facilities needed. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Shoppers and workers in Abu Dhabi are calling for out of action public toilets across the city to be brought back to life to end the eyesore of facilities that have fallen into disrepair.

Despite municipality plans to open more than 60 automated toilets across the city in 2008, those that did open quickly fell into disrepair and have closed down.

Residents, commuters and shoppers have been left with little option but to use facilities in shopping centres, restaurants or Mosques if caught short, and are calling for drastic improvements.

“It’s been more than five years since I moved here, but I’ve never found this toilet working,” said Bangladeshi Mohammed Zahid, who lives on Electra Street.

“Workers gather here and dump their rubbish. It has become a nuisance and a waste of government infrastructure and money. We generally have to use restrooms of nearby mosques or malls.”

Spot checks by The National failed to find one of the public automated toilets open for use. Some had become infested with insects, whilst others had signs of rodents as doors had become partially open and jammed.

The toilets checked were found off Electra Street, near the old Etisalat building, next to the Abu Dhabi Bus Terminus on Muroor Road and behind Abu Dhabi Municipality’s parking area off Salam Street. Other toilets found to be out of action were across the road from the Hamdan Centre on Hamdan Street, with two more in Post Office Park in Al Zahiya also unusable.

A DH50 million project by Abu Dhabi Municipality introducing self cleaning toilets, street furniture and to improve the city’s bus shelters and benches was announced in 2008. with work getting underway the following year.

Since then, maintenance of the toilets has been neglected, claim city workers.

Roshan Lal, an Indian who came from Musaffah, said the lack of public toilets in Abu Dhabi city has become a major problem.

“There should be public restrooms across the city,” he said.

“I’ve never seen them working. Many of those that were built are now either closed or broken. People leave their rubbish there and most covered with adverts for bachelor accommodation.”

Other coin-operated toilets in the city centre were also broken or closed, on inspection, forcing some tourists to look elsewhere to answer nature’s call.

A visitor at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater, a popular place for residents and tourists, bemoaned a shortage of proper facilities.

“You can get all kinds of snacks, beverages and water here as kiosks and machines are well installed, but I can’t find a restroom,” said Saeed Al Hashimi, who was visiting from Dubai.

“This is my favourite place in Abu Dhabi and often come here with family, I feel there must be a restroom.”

In July, Al Ain Municipality launched a pilot project of air-conditioned, automated public toilets at five locations, free of charge. Three will be in the market area, and two in Muwaiji’s valley garden area and Sarooj region. The self cleaning toilets can serve men, women, children and those with special needs with instructions in English and Arabic.

Workers have called for similar investment in the capital.

Another faulty restroom is located at the taxi stand in Muroor Road, where many visitors arrive from Dubai.

Abdul Hameed Khan, from Pakistan, was taking a taxi to Dubai and calling for at least basic facilities to be opened up there.

“There’s no need for an air-conditioned toilet, but I feel there should be a facility at all popular places,” he said.

“I’ve never been able to use this and I haven’t see anybody else using them. One is available behind the restaurant, so I have to use that.”

Abu Dhabi Municipality didn’t respond to The National’s questions before publication.

Published: September 23, 2016 04:00 AM


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