Sabina Yasmin (not real name), a traffic policewoman, has to manage vehicles standing on the road for hours, be it sun or rain. But, the lack of toilet facility during the long duty hours makes this tough job even tougher.
"There is no separate toilet facility for traffic police, and in our case (female members), it is very problematic.
"We have to use toilets in shopping malls or any nearby building as there is no alternative. To avoid having to use the toilet often, we drink less water," she said.
Sergeant Puja, of Dhaka Metropolitan Police's (DMP) Tejgaon zone (traffic), said, "We face problems because we do not have separate toilet facilities. However, we have to adapt to circumstances while on duty. Our superiors often put us on duty at locations where we can conveniently use a decent washroom."
Besides female officers, male traffic police members also suffer in the absence of toilet facilities in traffic booths.
Traffic police in the capital have been demanding toilet facilities close to their workplaces for a long time, but the authorities have yet to find a solution to the problem.
Traffic policeman Anwar Hossain said, "If we leave a traffic signal intersection for a moment, it leads to gridlocks. We cannot just step away if we want. We have developed a habit of holding back in such situations, which end up in physical and medical problems. Many traffic personnel suffer from various kidney related complications in the last years of their career."
There are about 4,000 traffic personnel in the greater Dhaka metropolitan area with more than 100 policewomen. All men and women working for the traffic department have to perform their duties on the streets where the lack of toilet facilities in traffic boxes has become a daily problem for them.
Many policemen are suffering from various physical problems including kidney complications since they drink less water to deal with the lack of toilets.
In this regard, Professor of Public Health Dr Abu Jamil Faisal said reducing water consumption to avoid toilet use can lead to various diseases. Besides kidney complications, this may affect traffic police psychologically, causing them to treat others badly. This can disrupt their normal duties, but if it continues like this for a long time, they will suffer from various diseases in old age.
According to the DMP's traffic department, there are currently 107 traffic boxes in the capital. Traffic boxes have been set up in different areas at the initiative of non-governmental organisations.
Most of the roads in the capital belong to the two city corporations of Dhaka and the traffic boxes were made at the initiative of the corporations.
Sources said the DMP officially urged the city corporations in 2018 to provide toilet facilities in these traffic boxes. However, no decision has been taken by the city corporations yet.
City corporation officials said that due to lack of space on the roads in the capital, they faced challenges to build traffic boxes in most places. In order to construct toilets in the traffic boxes on these roads, separate water and drain lines have to be installed which is almost impossible.
They said if the traffic police wants toilet facilities, they have to think of other alternatives. The city corporations do not have the capacity to arrange for them.
DMP Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam said, "I reported the matter to the city corporations, but no solution could be found. Many places on the roads are not under the corporations, and they will most likely give permission to build toilets there. I proposed building toilets under flyovers across the capital. But that did not happen either as some of the places are under the jurisdiction of the Roads and Highways Department, some under the local government, and some under the jurisdiction of city corporations.
Regarding alternative arrangements given the current situation, he said, "Traffic personnel have been asked to use toilets at nearby police outposts and police stations. In the case of female police, we are putting them on duty in places where they can easily use a toilet."