The sleepy Trashigang town is growing. Today, the town serves as one of the key business hub for the highlanders of Merak and Sakteng and the dzongkhag’s 13 other gewogs.

And so, with the increasing number of visitors in the town, sanitation has become an issue of concern. Of the two public toilets in the town, one is currently closed for public use because of the on-going construction work.

Another toilet, located near the vegetable market, remains under lock and key. The vegetable vendors at the market locked the toilet some two months ago after the users failed to keep the facility clean.

One of the vendors who didn’t want to be named said that despite continuous flow of water, people failed to keep the toilet clean.

“The toilet pots used to be blocked with sticks and stones,” she said. “The condition of the toilet was pathetic.”

Another vendor said that since the vendors used the toilet most of the time, they had to take initiative to keep it clean. “For almost three months we couldn’t use the toilet. We took turns to clean it but we couldn’t continue,” she said.

Buckets and water taps were stolen from the toilets.

“The cleaner from the municipal office didn’t clean the toilet,” a vendor said. “The smell from the toilet affected our business. We then decided to lock the toilets and give the keys to those who wants to use it properly.”

Engineer with the municipal office said that the office is monitoring the toilets but it was not possible to be there all the time. “We insist on creating awareness among the people and our focus is on changing the mind-set of the people,” she said, adding that the office was unaware of the public toilet being locked.

The engineer said that the pay-and-use system is not effective because of the shortage of manpower.

She said that the office in the 12th Plan has plans to build more g​e​nder-based toilets in the town.

People are often seen relieving themselves behind the bushes.

“The shops and hotels wont allow us to use their toilets. We have no option but to run into the bushes,” said a farmer.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang