Open defecation is described as the practice in which people go out into the fields, bushes, forests or other open spaces to pass human wastes rather than make use of a toilet. Motor parks and markets are no exception of places where open defecation is practiced in many parts of Nigeria.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) WASH Specialist, Bioye Ogunjobi at a recent media dialogue on Clean Nigeria Campaign in Ibadan, one out of every four Nigerians or 24 out of every hundred Nigerians are practicing open defecation thus making the country the second after India with largest number of people who do not make use of the toilet when nature calls.
Ogunjobi noted that many organised public spaces like schools and markets too do not have good or clean toilet facilities for use of pupils and traders prompting open defecation.
In actual fact, according to Ogunjobi, only 12 out of every hundred markets in the country have facilities for water, sanitation and health hence, open defecation in markets is not unexpected.
A field trip to one of the markets in Ibadan, Idi Osan, located along the Ogbere Road in Ona Ara Local Government Area of Oyo State, our Correspondent couldn’t but observed how poor management of the toilets by the leadership of the market encourages open defecation around the market.
Idi Osan is a foodstuff market many natives love to quickly dash into to buy their dry cereals such as Yam flour (Elubo), Cassava flakes (Gari), yam, cornmeal and some fleshy vegetables, fruits, pepper and oil in wholesale prices and it has existed for over 30 years.
Dry food products sold in this market could become veritable tools of food contamination especially as traders who handle them either use toilets and do not wash their hands thereafter or after open defecation and due to unavailability of water, do not practice hand washing.
According to 49-year old Madam Abosede Jimoh, Grinding Machine Operator and yam flour seller, “Idi Osan is a must go market for anyone who wants to buy yam flour in wholesale because it is a daily market where traders bring farm produce to sell in large quantity”.
Chief Tajudeen Adedoyin, enjoys it when the men stop by in his shop to gulp down a few pints of beer or soda after making their purchases or dropping off their wares from their trucks or lorries from the farm before taking off to their destination. He has sold beer in Idi Osan for nearly a decade
Saidatu Yusuf deals in Palm oil and has also seen two decades of selling the red oil to her customers who trust her source for the cooking stuff.
But all the traders who spoke to Healthstyleplus though love what they do which is, to wake up daily to routinely carry out the task of selling, but they are not always comfortable when nature calls for any of them to use the Public Bathroom or toilet and cannot do so conveniently.
“For nearly three years now, water supply to the modern toilet constructed by the Hon. Kayode Bola Fawole but commissioned by chairman, caretaker committee, Hon, Akanni, Nurudeen Ademola on Oct. 11 2012 for our use has stopped flowing because the pumping machine in the borehole packed up”, Saidatu lamented.
“We have now returned to making use of the old pit latrine where we do not pay before the new water toilet where we paid N30 was built”, Saidatu told our Correspondent.
It was learnt that for about four years, the leadership of the market also locked up one of the block of four toilets for their personal use as stores while monies were collected for using the only four toilets left for use by all traders and customers alike, prompting open defecation.
Some traders are irked that there is no accountability in the management of the toilets by the leadership of the market which encourages open defecation.
According to Madam Abosede, “since water no longer flows in the toilets and we have to buy water and still pay to use the toilet, it was no use patronizing the toilets”.
It was therefore surprising that Idi Osan market which was only recently adjudged as one of the cleanest in the state and listed towards achieving open defecation free (ODF) in the Local Government could be allowed to go through poor management by its leadership.
According to Sanitarian Popoola Rashedat Omowunmi, “Our duty as Sanitation officials of the Ona Ara local government is to regularly visit the market and liaise with the leaders to ensure the market environment is clean and safe for all patrons and sellers”.
But in spite of the claimed regular visits and inspection by the Sanitation officials, our Correspondent asked if they do not perceive the possible high handedness of the leaders of the market in the affairs of managing the toilets as some of the traders alleged?
Popoola told our Correspondent that the faulty pumping machine was not brought to her notice before our visit and promised to notify the local authority for repairs.
Adedoyin who is also one of the leaders of the market Disciplinary committee pleaded that the local government provide another pumping machine to restore the glory of Idi Osan market.
When confronted with the allegation of toilet poor management, the Deputy market leader, Madam Deborah Afolabi who is custodian of the two new blocks of toilets feigned ignorance saying, ” you can see it is opened and we only try to make the place clean”, said Madam Afolabi.
She denied that she hoards the toilets and keep back some monies but appealed that the local government come to help in providing another pumping machine. According to Adedoyin, a new pumping machine is about N70,000 and the leadership cannot afford to replace it.
There is no doubt that for Idi Osan market to achieve open defecation free status there is need for proper management and monitoring of the toilets by all stakeholders.