By now most of us are familiar with mobile schools, but hardly we have come across any portable toilets in a city.
To change the perception of public toilets, this duo from Pune has turned old buses into new restrooms and have built everything from scratch to provide women of the city with clean toilets.
The old buses which were likely to have ended their life either in landfill sites or at a scrap dealer’s yard, but luckily, they were refurbished and put to good use. Thanks to Ulka Sadalkar and her business partner Rajeev Kher who came up with this sustainable solution, and believe that “sanitation has its own glamour”.
Launched in November 2017 by Sadalkar and Kher’s company, Saraplast Pvt. Ltd., the restroom buses are called Ti or Toilets for Her. Right now 10 of these buses with an interesting décor, incorporated with solar panels on the top, move across the city.
Each mobile toilet bus is solar powered and comes with Indian-style toilets, western-style ones, shower, hand-washing basins with soaps, sanitary napkins, a diaper-changing station, drinking water. There is more. Not only there is a place to sit but it is wifi-enabled as well.
Each bus has an attendant and a technician who ensures the bus is clean and functions smoothly. To sensitize women, there are posters that urge them to wash their hands and flush the toilets after use.
Thirteen years back, in 2006, Saraplast launched two mobile toilets but when they asked for finance, they were turned away because it was a new concept but in 2008, Aavishkaar Venture Capital and responsAbility came to their rescue and their business got off the ground.
While speaking to Civil Society News, Sadalkar says, “We want to change the concept of public toilets in India. Generally, women use the toilet before they leave home because they know they won’t find one in public spaces. Even if they do, it will be dirty and unusable.”
To run one restroom bus, it costs Rs.50,000 to Rs.60,000 per month. Right now, there is no charge for using these toilets as the founders wanted women to trust public toilets and change their attitude towards using them.
To make this mission a success, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and a group of companies have teamed up to help the new enterprise take off.
Women of all classes will have the privilege of using these toilets and these are a wow factor for them, says Sadalkar.
Previously, Saraplast was focussed on building toilets for event management companies and migrant workers at construction sites. Till this day, 80 percent of their mobile toilets are for construction sites and special care is taken to keep it clean.
The company is planning to expand to other cities as well and urges others to open a similar business and sensitize people.