In an innovative effort to stop people from urinating in public, the religious affairs ministry has placed a notice in Arabic in some areas of the city.
The red graffiti in Arabic reads: "Urinating here is prohibited". The prohibitory sign accompanies a Bangla instruction: "A mosque is opposite to the street. For creating public awareness: Religious Affairs Ministry."
“I've seen the notice this morning [yesterday]. Perhaps it was painted last night [Tuesday night],” said Deepak Chandra Ghosh, a rickshaw mechanic who has been running a makeshift shop on the footpath in Bijoynagar for over 10 years.
Talking to The Daily Star, Religious Affairs Minister Matior Rahaman said he launched the public awareness campaign on his own decision.
“People are respectful of their religion. When they see Arabic letters, they become aware of it and keep away from acts of nuisance.”
The minister said they received a good public response so far. “We'll support the mosques financially for letting pedestrians use their lavatories throughout the day.”
Visiting the Masjid-e-Noor Mosque at East Segunbagicha around 12:20pm yesterday, this correspondent found that the collapsible gate was unlocked, but unfolded. It was opened five minutes later.
Abul Kashem, one of the caretakers of the mosque, said they open the gate around 12:30pm everyday and close it at 10:00pm.
Some 10 yards from the entrance to the mosque, a youth was urinating on the footpath.
“I didn't want to do it here, but I couldn't bear the pressure. If there are enough public toilets in the city, no one would urinate in the open,” added the youth.
Sources at Dhaka North and South city corporations said there are only 70 public toilets, including those unusable, in the capital against the demand of around 200.
Brig Gen AKM Masood Ahsan, chief health officer of Dhaka North City Corporation, said the two city corporations are working to build 43 public toilets with funds from an international charity.