The Samdrupjongkhar primary school has been waiting for a new toilet for more than a year.  Construction of the new toilets was supposed to have been completed by June last year.

The construction of 14 toilets for girls and boys began from December 2015, but the construction is still not complete. The school’s administration claims they are unaware of the reasons for the delay as the construction is being monitored by the Samdrupjongkhar thromde.

According to the school’s principal, Sonam Tshering, the construction of the school’s toilets was approved because UNICEF requires a certain number of toilets and water taps based on the number of students. With the school introducing classes until level VI, the number of toilets needed to be increased by another 14, from the existing number of 14.

“But even after a year the toilets are still not ready and we’ve verbally complained several times,” the principal said, adding that since there was no response, they are not sure what the cause of the delay is.

Construction of the toilets, according to the principal, is inconsistent and halts frequently throughout the week.

“We provide all the necessary assistance but still the contractor has not completed the work on time. It is not about how important the toilets are but meeting the deadline to meet the required policy of health and sanitation.”

The principal added that the school is managing with the existing 14 toilets with different break times for the classes. But despite the differing break times, he added that most of the students relieve themselves outside the toilet because of the congestion, which is unhygienic.

“We didn’t even receive any enquiry from the authority concerned to check on the delay of completion even after the complaint,” he said.

The school has 616 students with 28 teachers. The construction of the toilets was estimated to cost of Nu 2.6 million (M) and was tendered out to the lowest bidder at Nu 1.9M.

The contractor said the work was delayed after 22 of his labourers absconded after advancing Nu 120,000 and he had to hire new workers, which is why the work was further delayed.

However, the contractor assured that this time the work will be completed on time and the toilets will be ready before this month ends.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupjongkhar