Jēkabpils unveils pricy public restroom

A new public toilet in Jēkabpils has been set up, the cost of which is surprising residents. The total amount spent on the installation of the toilet is just over 70 thousand euros. Jēkabpils is accused of being wasteful, but the municipality explains that there are reasons for this, Latvian Radio reported on May 16.

The municipality of Jēkabpils recently modernized the Jēkabpils Green Market by installing new sales shelters as part of a project supported by the European Union. As part of the same project, a free public toilet has just been installed next to the market for both traders and visitors.

Pāvels, from Jēkabpils, is satisfied with the facilities, but is surprised to learn the cost. Nearly 72 thousand euros, including value-added tax (VAT), have been invested in the toilet.

"What can cost so much here? I can't understand. 70 thousand! What is there? A toilet, a sink, and the walls are standing. It should be all made of gold," said Pāvels, a visitor to the toilet.

The toilet that has been installed is a container-type building with one cubicle and a technical room where the equipment needed to maintain the toilet is kept. The municipality says that the facility is built using modern materials that are also resistant to vandalism.

"The container building is custom-made and not standard. The equipment is not standard, but durable for use, for example, there is a stainless steel toilet bowl, a steel sink, a baby changing table, an alarm button for people with special needs," said Sandra Gogule, Head of the Project Management Department at Jēkabpils Regional Council.

The local authority pointed out that the building itself cost EUR 27.7 thousand, but the bulk of the costs - more than EUR 44 thousand - were needed for the development of the construction project, the construction of a water and sewerage well and a supply line, the connection of electricity and other works.

"Unfortunately, the cost of building the utilities extension is one of the most expensive, because the location of this building was not so simple. This is a public environment where, unfortunately, properties come into contact with private properties and then there is a lot of agreeing. This was one of the places where we were able to get approval and build this toilet, which I think is in a very good location," explained Gogule.

To assess whether the cost of the new toilet was adequate, the site and its cost estimate were analyzed by an independent expert - Normunds Grinbergs, President of the Latvian Builders' Association.

"If we talk about the construction itself, I don't see any significant increase in cost. There are similar buildings at similar prices in various other cities. The only thing is that, as far as the urban environment is concerned, there is a rather important section of utilities that have been built, so I have to say whether the municipality really could not have foreseen this earlier and built these utilities in advance. Then all that would be left would be to install and connect the toilet itself. [..] My conclusion is that nothing is exaggerated," said Grīnbergs.

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