Your Public right to a Public Toilet
"A nation is judged by its toilets, it's one of the first images tourists and visitors get and we should generally be ashamed in this country" stated Greed when discussing the case of the UK! Imagine what she would say about Beirut.
Did you ever walk anywhere or were driving and had to drive like a maniac to sneak into a coffee shop's toilet and exit shamefully? If you do not live in a 10 minute radius of any of your outings the chance is the answer to this question is yes. Where do you go and what do you do in Beirut when you need to use the toilet?
I decided to investigate this in one of our only public spaces in Beirut, the Corniche.
The case of Beirut’s Corniche
The Corniche is a seaside promenade offering visitors a view of the Mediterranean and the mountains. The Corniche a beautiful space that people in Lebanon can access and spend the day regardless of their economic backgrounds and their purchase ability. However this site lacks adequate public services that will facilitate your stay for longer than an hour.
On Sundays and holidays the Corniche is packed and let’s face it it’s the only place in Beirut where people can spend the day without paying for entrance, seats, parking … During the week the Corniche is also congested with passersby that spend an average of an hour walking, sitting, contemplating. Couples meet there and of course the joggers during sunrise and sunset fill the space. Families that try to provide their children with a space to spend some time outside their apartments also frequent the Corniche after sunset during the week and all day during the holidays and Sundays.
|Public toilet 1|
Toilets on the Corniche
So I decided to first ask two young women seated close to what I thought was the only public toilet in the area if they ever had the urge to use the toilet while on a visit. They looked up at me worried and thought I needed a toilet and said “oh I am so sorry but you should try to hold it in and if you are desperate there is a very dirty and smelly toilet just behind us in between the two streets.” I smiled nodded and thanked them.