THE provision of ablution facilities has unwittingly been privatised at Port Shepstone’s taxi rank. Entrepreneur Khaveduze Gumede-Khuzwayo saw a gap in the market after the Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM) closed the toilets because of vandalism. He started to provide buckets into which people could urinate for a rand a time. “I brought in two buckets,” said Gumede-Khuzwayo. “People come to relieve themselves here. Yes, that is not free because I charge them R1. I have brought toilet paper as well for them. People are very happy with my service”. The Witness did not establish from Gumede-Khuzwayo where he disposed off the waste, but people at the rank believe he throws it into the bush. Gumede-Khuzwayo, nonetheless, said people desperately needed a proper sanitation facility at the rank so that they could relieve themselves in a dignified way. The HCM’s head of the corporate services department, Maxwell Mbili, condemned the vandalism. “How can people have toilets if they vandalise them?” he asked. “Toilets are closed because we fix them, but they are broken again. People need to take care of their facilities.” Gumede-Khuzwayo said he suspected that some of the vandals were employees in the municipality’s plumbing division making money from stolen pipes. “They steal sinks and pipes from the toilets in broad daylight, causing water to leak all over the taxi rank.” He suspected the thieves had businesses on the side or that they sold the pipes they had stolen. HCM spokesperson Simon Soboyisa said this was the first he had heard of the accusation. “We always encourage the public to report such things to the municipality,” he said. Gumede-Khuzwayo said he understood the toilets at the rank had been closed for about three months, but Soboyisa could not say exactly how long it had been. He said that providing portable toilets was not an option because they were costly to install. The municipality planned to repair the toilets and reopen them, Soboyisa said, but he could not give a time frame. HCM councillor Carol Potter, whose ward includes the town centre, said her ward committee had been complaining for years about the deplorable state of the taxi rank toilets. Port Shepstone Local Informal Trading spokesperson Sbongiseni Dlamini has pleaded with the municipality to re-open the toilets. “People have no place to relieve themselves because their toilets have been closed. Please open them,” he said.