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Cape Town public toilet project a huge success

by Sharon Sorour-Morris 6 Mar 2024
CCID Public Toilet Project

Cape Town, March 2024: A public toilet project in Cape Town – aimed at increasing the amount of clean, safe, and accessible public ablution facilities available to people who visit, work, do business or live in the CBD – has proved a huge success with hundreds of thousands of people using them since their inception.

Since the project’s launch in 2022, nearly 300 000 people have used the spotless toilets, which are situated at five key, highly pedestrianised inner-city locations and have provided welcome relief for the thousands of visitors to the CBD over the festive season.

The project is a joint venture between the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), which launched it in May 2022, the City of Cape Town, which came on board in 2023, and NGO Khulisa Social Solutions. 

City of Cape Town councillor for Ward 115, Ian McMahon, hailed the pilot is “an amazing success” which is evident in the “sheer number of people using the ablutions”. 

CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos says the lack of sufficient public toilets in town prompted the CCID to launch the project. “There is a scarcity of public ablution facilities in the CBD, and the long-standing ones are only open during normal working hours. We wanted to address this shortage but also provide clean, safe facilities that were not only open during the day, but also at night,” he says.

According to Evangelinos, from mid-May 2022 to 31 January 2024, a total of 297 063 people used the serviced toilets. “It’s clear from these figures that the convenient and clean facilities have been very well received and appreciated by all members of our CBD community.”

At present there are 14 toilets, eight of which are mobile units, located in pairs on the corner of Adderley and Darling Sts, and in Longmarket St, Upper Long St and Barrack St. The remaining six toilets are situated at the public ablution facility on Green Market Square. 

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CCID Public Toilet Project

JOB CREATION PROJECT

Kally Benito, manager of the CCID’s Urban Management department, says an important aspect of the project is the creation of work for at least 19 people who manage the toilets. 

Says Benito: “As the toilets need to be cleaned and sanitised after every use, we have collaborated with our partner NGO, Khulisa Social Solutions, which, via its Streetscapes work-based rehabilitation programme, provides trained workers who earn a stipend to clean and sanitise the units.”

She says safety is also paramount, with CCID Safety & Security Public Safety Officers (PSOs) on patrol near the units and on stand-by to offer assistance.

Benito says the facilities also provide dignified ablution options in town for the homeless population, who do not have easy access to toilets or restrooms inside restaurants or eateries. “While the majority of users are people who visit or work in the CBD, of the 297 063 recorded users, a total of 79 076 were homeless individuals.”

According to Jesse Laitinen, Khulisa Social Solutions strategic partnerships manager, the project’s job opportunities have provided a sense of purpose and structure to participants. “The work offers a daily routine and a reason to wake up in the morning. This routine can be crucial in breaking cycles of instability and addiction that often accompany long-term homelessness.”

She says the project has not only increased the workers’ sense of self-worth and pride, but it has also helped them regain confidence in their abilities and their place within society – as well as pay rent – thereby contributing to long-term stability.

NIGHT-TIME FACILITIES

Benito says 10 of the 14 toilets are open seven days a week from 07h00 to 23h00, which is a big plus. 

“The units at Adderley and Darling Sts, Longmarket St and on Green Market Square are all open from Monday to Sunday from 07h00 to 23h00,” she says. 

The units in Barrack St are open from Monday to Friday from 07h00 to 17h00 and the Upper Long St units, which serve the night-time economy and cater for late-night revellers, are open from Tuesday to Saturday from 16h00 to 05h00. 

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Public Toilets

CALLING FOR SPONSORS

Evangelinos says for the project to continue in its present form, and to remain sustainable, sponsorship is urgently needed. “We are very grateful to the City of Cape Town for collaborating with us and enabling us to increase the number of toilets from 4 to 14 but we need corporate or business sponsorship for it to be sustainable in the long term.

“Clearly, there is a huge need for facilities of this kind in a busy Central Business District that has a vibrant day- and night-time economy, and which experienced a huge surge in visitor numbers during the holiday period. We are therefore looking for partners so that can continue to provide this invaluable service to all our stakeholders.“

Cllr McMahon says the statistics of people using the facilities are “crucial figures” in the future determination of the ablution facilities, and the discussion around times of opening and operations going forward.

Says Laitinen: “Supporting projects that secure jobs instead of relying on a welfare approach that keeps people in a state of dependency is an effective way to address complex social issues like homelessness. These toilets have proven to be a hand-up, not a hand-out.”

Issued by Accenture Song Media on behalf of Sharon Sorour-Morris, Communications manager of the CCID 082 216 0835 | sharon@capetownccid.org

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by Sharon Sorour-Morris