By Adekola Afolabi
Six months ultimatum has been given to owners of private buildings in Ondo state to provide toilet, facilities within their facilities or risk jailed.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu who equally announced ban on open defecation in any part of the state, said defaulter would have him or herself to blame, just as he emphasised that users of either private or public buildings, either owners or tenants would be arrested and charged to court for appropriate punishment including jail term, after the expiration of the six months grace which takes effect from July 1.
He made this known at the inauguration of a 7-member Steering Committee on Open Defecation Free (ODF) in Ondo State, held at the Babafunke Ajasin auditorium, Akure, the Ondo state capital.
The membership of the committee comprises officers from relevant Ministries, Extra-Ministerial Departments and Agencies (MEDAs), Non-Governmental Organisations religious Organisations, as well as Development Partners.
The governor who stated that relevant law would be enacted to deal with offenders, also said henceforth it is compulsory for all public facilities within the state to put in place an accessible and functional toilet within six months, effective from July 1, this year.
He directed that all filling stations along the highways in the state should put in place a functional and accessible public convenience within their facilities for public use, just as he noted that all public and private schools must have functional toilets with dedicated space for Menstrual Hygiene Management for girl students in public schools.
He specifically charged members of the committee to work assiduously to ensure that the state achieves Open Defecation Free status within the stipulated time frame of year 2030 as stipulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6-Target 1.
The governor particularly appreciated all development partners especially UNICEF and Europe an Union who have championed the cause and are collaborating with the state government to achieve open defecation free status, assuring that government would continue to support all efforts geared towards the development of the state in all facets.
Akeredolu who decried the extent at which people practice open defecation, explained that about 1.4 million people living in the state practice open defecation, the development which he described as unacceptable to his administration.
‘On the international scene, the comity of nations have signed off on eradicating open defecation by 2030 as stipulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6-Target 1. Eliminating open defecation, therefore, in our state, it has cross cutting benefits ranging from health, nutrition, learning, social and economic status, “he added.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Emmanuel Igbasan, disclosed that the 2016-2017 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS 5) report indicated that sanitation rate in the state is about 21.3% which falls short of the South West and National averages of 30% and 27% respectively.