Nsimbe abandoned teaching to clean public toilets

Written by: 
Mutebi Kalema

High crime rates and poor sanitation in Katanga, a Kampala suburb, prompted 58 year old Ndiris Nsimbe to turn to community services.

It all dates 30 years back, to one of his routine visits to his family in Katanga. At that age, Nsimbe concerned about the poor sanitation and high levels of crime in the area.

Nsimbe has gone up the ladder in community service in Katanga. He has been operating as a public toilet attendant for 30 years now, since he was 28 years old.

Nsimbe says that after eight months of living with his family in Katanga, he realized that Katanga had few toilets compared to number of people.

“I was so disheartened by the idea that people used what we called flying toilets. A person would urinate or defecate in a black polythene bag and dump it in the drainage trenches,” Nsimbe says.

He says that during that time, many people started suffering from diseases like diarrhea, malaria, dysentery and typhoid.

“I then decided to embark on improving on the sanitary services in the area. First, I had to talk to the LC1 Chairman about the way people handled their waste,” he says.

Nsimbe recalls that when he first came to Katanga, the toilets would be locked by midday. To him, this was the cause of poor waste management.

“I requested the chairman to put me on the health committee of the area, an idea he welcomed generously,” Nsimbe remarks.

Initially, he introduced the idea of operating toilets for 24hrs. He also encouraged the health committee to construct more toilets. Together with the committee they sought help from good Samaritans to give them support. Church of Uganda supported them by funding construction of more toilets.

Luckily, Nsimbe was assigned as the head of all public toilets in Katanga and vital member of the health committee.

It is since then, that Nsimbe has been serving as a public toilet attendant in Katanga. He earns Sh. 300,000 per month, a salary he is very proud of.

His loyalty and commitment to his job has won him trust from community members.

Apolo Lukwago, a resident of Katanga considers Nsimbe a very fantastic worker who never leaves any stone unturned.

“He is at work by 6am and ensures that all the toilets are clean the entire day. He does routine checks every hour and ensures that they are open for all community members to use,” Lukwago says.

His family

Born to Haruna Nkalumbo and Madina Nanyonga in 1956, Nsimbe is the first born of twenty seven children. His parents are peasant farmers of kyagwe, in Mukono District.

He went to Seeta primary school, for his primary and later joined Mbale Muslim School for his secondary education.  While at school he studied English and Arabic.

After completing his O level, Nsimbe enrolled to a primary teachers’ college for a grade III certificate in primary teacher training.

He was later recruited at Kaboge Primary school as an Arabic teacher, for few years. He retired from his teaching profession due to his dissatisfaction with the little income he earned.

“I earned Sh. 50, 000 only. This money was not enough to cater for my family,” he says.

He later joined Lugazi sugar cooperation for a couple of years but still he was not happy with his wage. He worked with Gapco petrol station (Lugazi), and later joined driving school. He drove a commuter taxi for about a year, was fired by his boss.

In 1984, he lived with his brother Ssekumba David in Katanga after he had lost his job. That is when Nsimbe started involving in the community activities of Katanga, with the major aim of improving the service provision in Katanga. He was able to support his family, which he had left home in Mukono.

Nsinmbe says serving as a public toilet attendant has enabled him support the basic needs of his family. Nsimbe has a family of four wives and fourteen children. He works tirelessly to support the education of his children.

His milestones

Nsimbe earns a monthly salary of three hundred thousand. He has bought four plots of land, and has constructed four houses on this land. Two commercial houses and two residential houses.  

However, his job has not come without challenges, Nsimbe says that he pays a monthly water bill of sh. 500, 000.

“As if that is not enough, residents use the toilets in an improper manner. They dump empty bottles in the toilet, and at times men and women dump their under wears in the toilets,” he says.

For that reason, Nsimbe charges Sh.100 per user. Out of the monthly collections Nsimbe pays shs 450,000 to the LCI committee. This money is met for renovating toilets.

Nsimbe requests LC I committee to re-allocate money well so that they are able to improve the toilets.

His major aim was to improve the state of Katanga. Nsimbe believes this has been achieved since people can now access quality services and cases of theft are hardly registered. He is now working towards maintaining sanitation in Katanga.