THE Public Health Bill sailed through Senate last week with senators calling for inclusion of a clause making it mandatory for all new business premises to have ablution facilities before they are allowed to operate.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Health minister David Parirenyatwa, who introduced the bill, said his ministry had consulted widely to ensure that the health law covered a new strain of diseases.

The Public Health Act was first promulgated 70 years ago and hence had become archaic.

Mashonaland Central senator Damian Mumvuri said there was need for the bill to correct the anomaly where business operators did not provide ablution facilities for their clients.

“There is conflict between councils or regulating authorities like Rural Service Centres where business people are granted permission to operate business without adequate toilets for the public, and they only construct toilets for themselves,” he said.

“When people congregate together at a public place they do not have access to those toilets as they are locked up for use by workers and staff only and this is an anomaly which should be rectified in the Bill.”

Parirenyatwa said the problem of businesses opening up without adequate ablution facilities was not peculiar to rural areas, but also prevalent in urban areas, particularly Harare.

“The issue of toilets for the public in business premises is a very important one because what people end up using as an option are alleyways.

We find that alleyways are no longer what we used to know.

“Local authorities and government need to ensure that at least we have public toilets.

We suggested that there be public toilets and private toilets as well so that there are alternatives and choices.

That is why we continue to have cholera and diarrheal diseases,” he said.

The bill now awaits Presidential assent.