Hold it in, or pay up

In the past weeks it was on the news that the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority had drafted a regulation to make our roads safer and more efficient.
The draft regulation, once enforced, would bring about different levels of penalties on those who are irresponsible when using the roads all over the city.
So what exactly is “irresponsible” doings mean you may ask? Well, for one you can no longer urinate or defecate on the streets of Addis. Actually, you can but it will cost you 50 birr. That’s right folks doing the dirty the streets just got expensive.
Upon hearing this news, I was really happy as indeed, defecation is a huge problem in the city. The reality is that, you cannot walk down any street without sniffing the stanch of somebody’s waste. Okay maybe not any street, the palace and parliament areas may be exceptions, but more or less all other places.
The other punishable act as per the draft regulation is posting advertisements without permission from appropriate bodies on electric poles, bridges and other areas. This act is to be punishable by 500 birr.
In finding that out, I thought to myself, which one I would prefer, thousands of advertisements plastered all over the place or being confronted by the smell of shit and urine walking down the street. I think any sane or not so sane person for that matter would prefer the first one.
So, why just 50 birr penalty for such a disgusting act? I was taking about this with my friend and his response was, “Apparently pissing all over your own country is only 50 birr worth.”
My other friend asked “Is 50 birr before or after VAT,” but that is another story for another day.
Although I applaud the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority for drafting the regulation which has been due for a long time, I must question on its way of prioritizing.
A lot has been said about keeping Addis Ababa cleaner, I myself have written about it on this platform many times. With rapid urbanization smeared with poverty, the city is bound to get dirty in all sense of the word.
Currently, it seems that there is absolutely no shame in going to the bathroom on the streets if one wants too or has to. But the ones to blame for the problem are not just those that are defecating on the streets, it is also the fact that there are no proper facilities.
One of the most outrageous things is that many public places (includes all those shiny new buildings, restaurants, cafes…) do not like it when people use their bathrooms. Some even resort to locking the facilities so as not to deal with shit (literally).
Sure, it can get very expensive, time consuming and down right annoying to maintain these facilities that are used by hundreds of people on a daily basis.
A while back, mobile toilets were introduced in different parts of the city. It didn’t take long for those toilets to go out of use as people didn’t use them properly as well as nobody was able to maintain them.
So what should be done then? We should know by now that setting penalties do not always work, evident in the traffic offence. If we were to follow rules imposed on us because we fear penalties, traffic accidents would have been a lot less in Ethiopia.
And then there is always corruption. We can always get out of a situation when we put a bribe on the table, and lets be honest, we do give bribes and we do take bribes, it is as common as…well defecation on the streets! (I just want to say in all seriousness that bribing is a cancer to society, don’t bribe!)
All this shows that there are a series of things that need to be considered before enforcing these regulations, and I assume and also hope that the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority has taken all things into consideration.
Hopefully, this regulation is the beginning of something less smelly. And I hope it brings change to our environment as well as some common sense to our minds.