“There is a saying: “Nothing is better for orienting in a new place than finding a toilet“, said the Head of the Department of Public Toilets Management of Specialized Water Management Municipal Company “Kyivvodfond” Tamila Makarevska on the air of Kyiv TV channel in January 2022.
How often have you skipped the idea of a nice walk around Kyiv to avoid the stressful quest for a public restroom or the need to spend money at cafes in order to access their facilities? Do you know how many public toilets are available in the city, how they work, and whether they are inclusive?
The DOZORRO team is not the first and not the last to attempt to grasp this subject. But this time, we decided to explore how effectively Prozorro is used to address the issue of improving conditions. For example, how the orders for repairs and construction of such facilities are made.
Let’s start with the basics. According to the Department of Housing and Utility Infrastructure of the Kyiv City State Administration, as of the summer of 2021, Kyiv had more than 300 public toilets: stationary, modular, container, and bio-toilets. Part of them work seasonly, some are closed because they need to be repaired. Kyiv City State Administration mentioned the same number of toilets in later responses to citizens, for example in the spring of 2023.
Who is responsible for which restrooms
Not all restrooms are on the balance sheet of the same organization. Park and square restrooms are under the responsibility of district greenery maintenance companies of Kyiv Zelenbud Municipal Association; water recreation area restrooms are maintained by Pleso Municipal Enterprise, and cemetery restrooms (yes, they do exist) are under the maintenance of Funeral Service of Specialized Group of Utility and Maintenance Enterprises. By the way, according to Tamila Makarevska, park and square toilets cannot function in winters when its freezing outside.
According to the Department of Environmental Protection and Adaptation to Climate Change of Kyiv City State Administration, ten Greenery Maintenance Municipal Companies have 39 public restrooms on their balance sheet. Out of these, 24 are operational, while 15 require maintenance. Four more WCs are located in the territories controlled by these district utilities.
Tamila Makarevska says that in mid-January 2022, Kyivvodfond was responsible for 42 stationary restrooms. Of these, 23 actually worked:
“All of them are in different sanitary and technical conditions. Adequate sanitary condition, rather than flawless technical condition. Some of them require major repairs. Our company annually submits a certain number of public restrooms to the list of major repairs. Repairs of 12 public restrooms is scheduled for 2022-2024, that is, improvement of their technical condition and public services.
In addition, the company also has modular restrooms on its balance sheet.
“Our company has installed 12 automated modular toilets. They are in very good sanitary condition”, — added Tamila Makarevska.
Some of the restrooms subordinate to Kyivvodfond are on the map.
In addition, an unofficial app with a map of public restrooms in Kyiv was created in 2012. Nevertheless, it’s in the Russian language and exclusively accessible on iOS, with the most recent update dating back to 2019.
Pleso Municipal Enterprise is responsible for 40 restrooms (29 stationary and 11 modular ones). All modular and 18 stationary restrooms are operational. That information was provided by the Department of Environmental Protection and Adaptation to Climate Change of Kyiv City State Administration in response to DOZORRO’s request. These are public restrooms in parks, squares, and beaches, which tend to be nonfunctional during the late autumn and winter months.
According to information from cemetery layouts, Specialized Group of Utility and Maintenance Enterprises has at least 30 public restrooms. No one knows exactly how many of them work.
In total, in response to requests, as well as from available open sources, DOZORRO collected information about the location of 179 toilets out of the more than 300 listed by the KCSA. We do not know about the condition of all of them.
In addition, toilets are available in markets, shopping centers, hypermarkets, gas stations, bus and train stations, underground shopping spaces, and in metro. However, there is a nuance with the latter.
Kyiv metro restrooms are for personnel only and may only be publicly available during air raid alerts when metro halls function like shelters and the trains stop moving. People may only go to restrooms if accompanied by station’s duty staff. That explanation was given to Telegraph by the KCSA’s Department of Transport Infrastructure.
Mobile toilets, known as bio-toilets, should also be added to the total number of public restrooms available in Kyiv. The KCSA’s Department of Housing and Utility Infrastructure says that they are installed during events and maintained by relevant hosts.
Considering responses to the request and the information that we found in open sources, we can assume that out of 300 municipal toilets, up to 100 actually functional (along with those non-operational in winter). That is obviously not enough for 3.1 million people living in Kyiv according to Kyiv Digital data as of early August.
Building codes require one public restroom per every thousand residents. That is, now Kyiv should have a number of toilets that could serve more than 3,000 people at a time.
It is quite possible that this norm is met considering toilets in shopping and entertainment centers. But judging by the reviews of residents, Kyiv still needs more restrooms. Non-functional ones should be repaired, and new ones should be built.
What has been repaired in recent years
In June 2019, Deputy Chairman of the KCSA Petro Pantelieiev said that 32 public restrooms were built and repaired in Kyiv during 2015-2018. Of these, 13 new ones were built during the reconstruction of Natalka Park, Landscape Alley Volodymyrska Hirka, My Park on Vatutina Avenue, Syretskyi Park, Orliatko Park, Ostrovskyi Park, Vidradnyi Park, and Adriivskyi Descent near the Alley of Artists.
In response on petition in April 2023, the City Council announced the construction and reconstruction of 40 toilets. Of these, 15 are part of the reconstruction of parks and squares, and another 25 are separate projects.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to distinguish the cost of arranging only toilets from estimates for the general reconstruction of green areas. Therefore, in this text, we will only mention the amounts that relate to individual repairs and construction of toilets.
Over the past 8 years about UAH 33.7 million-worth toilet servicing was ordered through Prozorro in Kyiv.
Two-thirds of that amount, UAH 22.1 million was used to pay for cleaning, washing, and other maintenance of restrooms and bio-toilets.
UAH 10.4 million was allocated on repair and construction of new restrooms. The most expensive construction (UAH 4 million) was the underground public restroom on Andriivskyi Descent. These works in 2018 were carried out by Kyiv Zh.O.K. LLC, which as a result received the entire amount from the Construction Department of Podilskyi District Council of the KCSA.
In addition, there were orders for the repair of restrooms in recreation areas “Tsentralna”, “Raiduha”, “Lisova”, “Puscha-Vodytsia”, “Venetsia”, on the city cemetery in Stetsenka Street, on Lisove cemetery in Krainia Street, as well as in Volodymyrskyi market. The cost of transactions is from UAH 95 thousand to UAH 1.6 million.
In 2018, TOI-TOI Sanitary Systems LLC ordered arrangement of a modular toilet in Syretskyi Park for UAH 710 thousand. In 2019, the Municipal Greenery Maintenance Enterprise of Dniprovskyi district paid a little less than UAH 2 thousand to Epicenter hypermarket for the suspended tank and a bowl of Genoa.
The most recent repair order was in February 2023. Municipal Greenery Maintenance Enterprise of Shevchenkivskyi district procured plumbing worth UAH 32.5 thousand.
More UAH 1.2 million was spent on repair or construction design and related services. For example, development of draft layout for construction of a toilet on Andriivskyi descent, conducting of archaeological researchof a land plot at the construction site, preparation of documents to inform UNESCO, and technical supervision were totaling UAH 878 thousand.
It is worth mentioning two canceled tenders for the restrooms in the Southern and Central railway stations for more than UAH 30 million. After the cost of luxury components in the estimates became public, the toilet repairs at the budget expense were canceled.
But in the summer of 2023, a free family toilet was equipped at the Kyiv railway station at the expense of UNICEF Ukraine. It is cost and barrier-free and adapted for guests in wheelchairs. That information was given by the press service of Ukrzaliznytsia, which also announced the arrangement of four more such toilets in Kyiv: one in Iron Land children’s space, one at the Central Station and two more at the Southern station.
Regrettably, among the 10 institutions that responded to the comprehensive list of questions in the request, only one furnished details regarding the necessary funding to improve the toilets to an acceptable standard. Greenery Maintenance Municipal Company said that they consider it appropriate to repair two non-functioning toilets in parks that will be in demand. And it will cost UAH 3 million. No specific restrooms were mentioned.
Where to go if there is no toilet nearby
If you happen to need a restroom urgently, with no toilets around and you don’t have time to look up the nearest one on the map, you may freely use them in public catering establishments: cafes, bars, and restaurants. You are not required to order something for that.
In Kyiv, the Order of the Kyiv City State Administration No. 579 “On the Free Access of Citizens to Toilets in Public Catering Establishments,” has been in effect since 2008. According to it, all city residents and guests can use toilets in public catering establishments free of charge and freely.
By the way, this rule also applies in other cities of Ukraine — where the relevant orders were adopted by local self-government bodies.
How is the revenue generated by public toilets are used?
Most municipal public toilets are chargeable. Now the fee is UAH 10. As noted by the above-mentioned Tamila Makarevska, this money is credited as the company’s own funds, they are spent on restrooms maintenance.
Based on the current situation, it is likely that these funds are not enough to expand the network of toilets. However, according to Makarevska, Kyiv City State Administration encourages investors to join the development and implement their ideas.
For example, in the summer of 2019, Kyiv approved the list of two toilets that were offered to businesses for reconstruction with the option of additional construction.
“That should be an investor willing to conclude a contract for additional construction such as cafe or other establishment subject to resuming the operation of a public toilet. In other words, the functionality of that facility is not variable”, said the Head of the Department of Public Toilets Management of Specialized Water Management Municipal Company “Kyivvodfond”.
As a result, in May 2021, ME “Kyiv Investment Agency” announced two tenders for the reconstruction of stationary public toilets with additional construction in Sviatoshinskyi district: Yakuba Kolasa and Peremohy Avenue.
However, no one was willing to implement those projects.
Judging by the current situation, it’s evident that the existing public restroom facilities in Kyiv fall short of adequately covering the needs of both residents and visitors to the city. The problem is partially solved by restrooms in shopping centers, restaurants, and cafes. However, the facilities subordinate to municipal companies need to be repaired. And considering the procurement information, repairs and reconstruction are not sufficiently funded. And even this could be solved by giving some of the non-operational buildings to private businesses. However, two attempts to do that were unsuccessful.
The publication was written with the support of USAID/UK aid project “Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services/TAPAS.”