The only way commercial banks may consider building toilets for their clients is if the Ministry of Home Affairs has first built toilets for its clients.

This is according to Bankers Association of Namibia (BAN) chief executive officer Mr Brian Katjaerua.

Katjaerua was responding to queries from Omutumwa about the perceived arrogance of commercial banks, particularly their unwillingness to provide toilets to their clients.

Nedbank Namibia, First National Bank, Standard Bank and Bank Windhoek are the biggest commercial banks in Namibia, yet none of them has built a single toilet for their clients during the past 32 years of Independence.

But, according to Katjaerua, the issue of toilet pots is just a storm in a teapot.

“If you go to Maerua Mall for example, or Grove Mall, there are toilets. And the toilets are not very far from where the banking hall is. Even Wernhill Park has toilets, what are we referring to when we say there are no toilets? If you go to Ongwediva, or Ondangwa the complexes where banks are there are toilets,” said Katjaerua.

“Which complex in the township does not have a toilet? Does Black Chain not have public toilets?

“Where in Europe have you found a bank that has a public toilet inside the bank?”

Katjaerua contended that people visiting banks must make use of public toilets available in every town, but staff toilets at banks are also accessible upon request by clients.

“In Katima, I went to Katima for holiday, and in the mall where the banks are there are public toilets. I drove through Grootfontein, and where the banks are there are public toilets. So I don’t understand if we are now saying in towns nobody who visits banks is able to access any single public toilet. That would be catastrophic if that were true.

“Public toilets are there to also serve the banks. If I put my bank branch in Maerua Mall it’s because I would have done due diligence that there are sufficient public toilets which my customers can use.

“Go to Maerua Mall for example, the public toilets are a staircase down and all banks are concentrated at the same area. Is that not sufficient?

“Even in rural areas, which bank has put a branch just next to the road where there are no public toilets and they are not even allowing customers to access their own toilets? I want to get that. And of course we have suggestion boxes as banking institutions where customers can say as to what they want to see.”

Katjaerua stated that the issue of public toilets has been raised by former Windhoek Mayor Dr. Job Amupanda.

“If you go to the City of Windhoek where he was the mayor can you find a public toilet? Even in Katutura at the police station do you find a public toilet? If you go to home affairs where thousands of people gather everyday, do they have public toilets?

“Why is he complaining about the banks? Every public institution must also then have a public toilet. Why are the banks being singled out and attacked?”

Katjaerua said that it would have been a good thing if every institution, including banks, could build public toilets for their clients, but “I am just telling you the impracticality of every institution building a public toilet.

“These things cost money, which is why we leverage on public institutions or other structures already there to provide some of the services that we may not necessarily be able to provide ourselves like public toilets. And we have to accept that. Otherwise we will have to tap into our budgets, and that will cost billions of dollars which could have been spent somewhere else like in education and job creation.”

Thus, Katjaerua said that commercial banks are not arrogant but do respect their clients.

In the photo: Bankers Association of Namibia CEO Mr Brian Katjaerua.