On Monday afternoon, October 19, cartels behind Nairobi’s public toilets were engaged in running battles with police officers over the management of the facilities.
The police were forced to use teargas on protesters in a tag of war pitting the County Government of Nairobi and the owners of the toilet chains.
“We are the people who constructed these toilets, but when Governor Mike Sonko’s regime assumed office, the officers were forcefully coming to take over the facilities,” Wangechi Simba, one of the toilet owners told the press.
The county government, on the other hand, claimed that the toilet owners had not signed any agreement with the county and therefore needed to relinquish the facilities.
The fight over control of Nairobi’s toilets said to rake in millions of shillings has been going on for three years.
Reports estimate that the county has a total of 150 public toilets with each averaging a daily income of Ksh10,000.
In a previous interview, Iko Toilet boss David Kuria revealed that his chain of four toilets in Nairobi CBD raked in Ksh40,000 every single day.
His competitor, Alika’s boss Tom Makale, who run a chain of seven facilities, had daily income topping Ksh70,000.
Some of the individuals behind successful toilet chains in Nairobi have reportedly taken home as much as Ksh1.8 million every month.
Combined, the 150 public toilets in Nairobi rake in as much as Ksh45 million every month.
As of 2018, Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) alone had 62 toilets which translated to Ksh 620,000 a day hence Ksh18 million monthly income.
The owners were, however, only expected to pay monthly rental fees of Ksh20,000 and a few thousand water and power bills to keep the places running.
In July 2018, Sonko expressed interest in having the county run the toilets claiming that most of the handlers did not have valid contracts to enable them manage the facilities.
The notice resulted into a fierce tussle pitting the owners against the government that continues till this day.