By,Tekuh Mbachan & Sakwe Itoe
The University of Buea has 44 restrooms available to a student population of over 22,000 persons. Out of this number 17 restrooms are dedicated to male and same number to the females. Ten restrooms are for both sexes. These restrooms are spread out across the campus with the general restrooms found in the amphitheatres and laboratories. Twenty one are under lock and key while four others are either damaged or in need of repairs.
The Director of Development, Physical Planning and Infrastructure, Dieudonne Agbor, explained that his service has an efficient team of plumbers. They are standing by to intervene whenever need be. Dr. Agbor admitted that leaking pipes are hardly seen on campus. The don explained that an inventory is carried out at the beginning of each year to determine the state of every restroom. He however acknowledged that there has been water shortage in some areas on campus especially the upper floors due to low water pressure. He said his team is aware of the situation and as a result, some supply points are being relocated while new catchments are being built to take care of the problem. He lamented that some restrooms are being overused, as is the case with that located at Restau. In addition to the fact that it is the lone restroom in that facility , those who come for sports and those from nearby farms use it too. With such overuse, it is bound to suffer breakdown more often.
He said such points are progressively being identified and their systems replaced with ones that are cheaper to maintain. Furthermore, he complained that suppliers make the job difficult as many of them delay or refuse to supply the needed parts for maintenance. He explained that the suppliers complain of delay or non-payment of their bills of supplies made earlier.
Quizzed on why some of the toilets are under lock and key , the don explained that many of the restrooms were built without making provisions for janitors. As a result, some of the toilets are used by cleaners as stores for their materials.
He however expressed surprise at the fact that all the toilets in the Amphi 150 are under lock and key. He promised to find out why this set back when to the best of his knowledge the facilities are all in good working condition. He however reiterated that, the University of Buea is one of the rare academic institutions in the country where restrooms are always available to students. He further stated that, breakdown and misuse are common in most public settings. He applauded the general state of restrooms in UB, which he thinks is good.
Head of Administration of the Administrative Affairs Division, Dr. Justine Ayuk, said the responsibility of the sorry state of the restroom laid could hardly on a particular individual or service. To the don, it cuts across the administration of the university, the workers who clean them and also the students who use them.
Speaking on restrooms available to students, one head cleaner, Kumbele Mambo explained that all restrooms attached to lectures halls or areas that receive students such as Amphi theatres, and lecture halls in Classroom Blocks, laboratories and the library are open to students. Those in the administrative blocks like faculties and Central Administration. These are specifically for staff. These restrooms are managed by cleaners who take care of the entire building that they are assigned to and report to the Head of Departments
For those who work in the various lecture halls are said assigned Department and report there too. Mr Kumbele the cleaners for lecture halls as per their service notes, report to work at 6:30 am and close at 12:30pm.
Some of the concerns raised by Mr. Mambo were toilets out of order that have faulty flushing systems, water scarcity for toilets. He also complained about the poor habits of students who use hard instead of tissue paper. Worse he said they fail to flush toilets even when water is provided in containers for toilets with faulty systems. Mr Mambo also complained that some cleaners are less dedicated while some experience lack of working materials which could be as a result of the limited resources to the department. Unfortunately for him as cleaning supervisor, there is little he can do as the cleaners are not answerable to his service but rather to the various departments concerned with the halls. He however commends some workers who go the extra mile to provide basic supplies as bleach by themselves to make their work effective.
Asked if he is aware that some of the restrooms were under lock and key during the day, his response was negative. He further explained that as supervisor, he visits all the stations every morning and ensures that they are kept open except for those that are out of use. He acknowledged that some of the restroom spaces are used as parking for photocopiers but they have always been advised to take them out every morning to allow access to users.