Mobile toilets are not an end but a means to an end. A portable toilet service aspires to offer relief for people at construction sites, event sites, tourism sites and also in slums.
Portable toilets are basically of two types. The first one is a Mains free or a chemical toilet and the other, a sewer connect portable toilet. Mains free is an efficient, stand alone structure that comes attached with a disposal system. The waste is then removed externally with a suction pump. These are suitable for events or even construction sites where there is a dire need for quality sanitation.
Whatever be the type, portable toilets have brought about a revolution in the maintenance of hygiene and sanitation standards, especially in the construction industry and at events. They have become an essential component for various locations – exhibitions, meetings/ film shooting at far off places/ outskirts of the city, etc.
Along with installation, the right kind of waste disposal is imperative to maintain cleanliness and hygiene standards in such toilets. Proper disposal of waste using automated evacuation systems mounted on specialised vehicles was implemented for the first time in India a decade back by Pune-based 3S-Shramik. This not only enabled to get a better system for toilet cleaning but also gave immense relief to people. The cleaning service and proper disposal of waste as per current waste regulation norms was what such systems stressed upon. 3S-Shramik offers the entire service of the portable toilet cleaning system – from placing the toilet to cleaning and even disposing the waste.
The business is also backward integrated with a high tech factory for the production of the toilets and systems and offers unique business propositions to small entrepreneurs and youth who would be willing to work in the sanitation space in India by way of franchising or even as independent agencies.
“At the outset, portable toilets reduce open defecation and offer high quality hygiene. But, a toilet without maintenance service is not effective. So superior service for cleaning is extremely important for users to feel comfortable and also for us to get repeat orders,” says Rajeev Kher, Founder and Managing Director of Saraplast Pvt Ltd, the company that manages the 3S-Shramik brand. “We make sure the toilets are of high quality and they are kept spotlessly clean and hygienic. We provide accessories like bio based concentrates, soap dispensers and toilet paper or fresh water,” he adds.
Contributions of good quality sanitation are manifold, says Rajeev. “It imparts high employee or user morale, better surroundings, clean environment and above all dignity to all. Clean and well maintained toilets at work sites can prevent breeding of harmful bacteria and help provide better hygiene. Portable toilets can be placed just about anywhere to suit a person’s need and save immense time by not having to walk much distance to reach the toilet.
“Clean portable toilets can also encourage people to stay at a function or an event for a longer period of time. This will naturally improve goodwill and revenue for the clients who install this facility,” adds Rajeev.
The market for portable toilets in India is very small and 3S-Shramik has been drivers to spread awareness for such toilets. It has been successful in spreading services to about 10 cities all over India. However, it has been a daunting task to make people aware of the advantages of using portable toilets and how it can help the hygiene conditions.
“Cleaning has always been a problem area. Clients are very demanding and they obviously need the best of services, as a clean toilet is what they pay for. But it has been observed that a user leaves the toilet littered and dirty without realising that there will be someone else waiting to use it.
“So educating people and spreading the message of hygiene, awareness and dignity seem to be the biggest challenges that we face. It has a lot to do with changing mindset and that would take time. Of course, there are many other operational issues as well as logistical and administrative issues but are comparatively less difficult to handle.”
However, there is a huge difference from then to now and definitely one can see the change happening. Hiring of portable toilets is gaining acceptance all over India with great enthusiasm. The building up of franchisees and Pay-and-use models to the services would definitely scale up the awareness and improve the hygiene conditions drastically. The service has been extended to urban slums, municipal parks and migrant/new settlements.
Being awarded India’s premiere Social Enterprise award Shramik is working hard towards finding options and solution to multiple applications be it in urban or even rural sanitation and also offers now a range of disposal and waste management techniques in the most economical ways.
The initiative by two voluntary organisations Gramalaya and Water.org, USA has made Thirunarayanapuram village of Tamil Nadu open-defecation free. Water.org had given a grant of र13.34 lakh as subsidy for building individual toilets and providing water connections to households. About 185 Ecosan toilets each costing about र7,000 have been built in the village. A subsidy of र5,000 was provided for each toilet utilising the grant and about र5.48 lakh was mobilised by Gramalaya from the beneficiaries.
Mobile Toilet Units
In an effort to maintain cleanliness in public toilets, the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation has introduced mobile maintenance units for its public toilets. The task of the unit is to keep the toilets clean, odour-free and carry out repairs. The mobile unit will comprise of an electrician, a plumber, a scavenger and a supervisor to carry out the task.
The toilets will have an ozone sterlisers, a hand sanitizer and there will be periodical use of pesticides in the mobile toilet. The mobile units will display the contact numbers of the operator in case of any problems. The corporation has also planned to display pictorial guidelines for hygienic use of the toilets.