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Urgent need to answer nature’s call


Commuters have to bear with foul urine smell while waiting for their rides at the Komtar bus terminal in George Town. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

Commuters have to bear with foul urine smell while waiting for their rides at the Komtar bus terminal in George Town. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

A PROPOSAL by a Penang state assemblyman to build public toilets at the Komtar bus terminal has drawn mixed response from the people.

Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng had brought up the proposal during the state assembly sitting last month.

He said there should be a simple public toilet at every bus terminal for the public to use and it was the local authority’s responsibility to provide clean toilets for users.

“I suggest that toilets for both male and female be built,” he said.

He said that the lavatory has to be simple, user-friendly, durable and convenient.

According to Teh, the buses operate until late at night but the malls nearby Komtar close at 10pm resulting in the homeless urinating at public areas.

“This would lead to cleanliness and health problems, and also affect the city’s image and create a bad impression to the public and tourists,” he said.

Teh added that the number of homeless people around Komtar was increasing and one of the reasons was because free food is being distributed there each night.

Fresh urine stain at a wall in the Komtar bus terminal.
Fresh urine stain at a wall in the Komtar bus terminal. 

“As long as they are there, they will be free from hunger,” he said, adding that although the kind hearted souls who distributed the free food meant well, it created health and hygiene issues.

“I hope that public toilets can be built soon for the homeless to use the facilities and the state government build a Homeless Transit Centre at Jalan C.Y. Choy to house them,” Teh said.

Meanwhile, some passengers waiting for their rides at the bus terminal were in support of the idea, while a few had their concerns.

A woman, who wished to be known only as Chandra, said having public toilets was a good idea.

However, the 65-year-old babysitter pointed out that it might be a little challenging to upkeep cleanliness of the toilets.

Nurse S. Karen, 25, who works part time at Prangin Mall welcomed the idea to build public toilets at the bus terminal.

“The shops are usually closed after 10pm, so the toilets will be of great help to those who need it for emergency,” she said, adding that the elderly would be the ones in need of the toilets the most.

A 30-year-old bank officer, who travels by bus every day, however, said public toilets were not really needed.

The man, who wished to be known only as Wong, said that there were already many toilets nearby such as at Komtar or at the shopping malls around.

“I suggest that the malls open their toilets to the public even after 10pm,” he said.

A check at the bus terminal showed that the last bus reaches at 11.30pm or later if there is traffic jam.

“There are no toilets for those waiting for their buses after 9.30pm. So, sometimes they urinate behind the walls or at the motorcycle parking area,” one passenger noted.

He added that even though Penang Island City Council (MBPP) workers clean the premises every week, the pungent smell still hangs in the air.

The man applauded the proposal to build public toilets as the area was full of people.

“If they missed their bus, they have no way to pee if they want to.

“The stinky odour is a turn off for tourists who come to the bus terminal to get their rides to tourist spots such as Padang Kota Lama and Penang Hill,” he added.

   

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