Muscat: The fee for using the state-of-the-art self-cleaning automated restrooms in the governorate of Dhofar has increased from 50 to 100 baisas, according to a ministerial decision.
His Excellency Ahmed Al Mahrazi, Minister of Tourism, issued decision No 33/2019 on Sunday, June 30, which stated that “A fee of 100 baisas is imposed on the use of self-operated restrooms in the governorate of Dhofar.”
Eng Zahir Al Riyami, Director General of Tourism Development at the Ministry of Tourism, spoke to Times of Oman regarding the aim of the project and the reasons behind the increase.
“The aim of the project is to provide high-quality restrooms. With the use of the automated self-cleaning service, we reduce the need for the presence of a worker, the issue of lack of water, and we reduce vandalism in these areas.”
According to Al Riyami, these restrooms were installed in 2016. There are 20 units — separate for males and females — in ten different locations spread across the governorate of Dhofar.
Previously the fee was 50 baisas but from June 1, 2019, it increased to 100 baisas.
“The decision to increase is not so that we could make more money to pay for the services of these restrooms: even if we increase the fee to 400 baisas it would still not cover the cost of maintenance and management fees that we pay to the company.” said Al Riyami.
“What we found is that many people have difficulty with using coins and also having the right coins in order to use the facilities, however, more people have access to 100 baisas,” Al Riyami said.
Management of the restrooms is done by an Omani company; however, the technology is Italian.
“These restrooms are all automated, but responsibility of money collection which is done at the end of each week relies on manpower.
“The other scenario in which manpower is needed involves technical repair. There is a sim card installed in each unit. In the case of lack of water or soap, malfunction or emergency, the sim card alerts the management company regarding the exact location, issue and time. Then, the technicians go to the specific unit and repair it,” added Al Riyami.
The features of the unit include a handwashing sink area with soap dispensers that are activated by hand sensors. There is also a baby changing area provided, and a WC, all of which are self-cleaned.
Here is a step by step guide on how the entire process works.
First, the user inserts the fee into the system and the door opens. Once inside, the user has 15 minutes to use the facility. Once the 15 minutes are up, an alert will be given to the user and he or she will be given the chance to extend their time.
Once the user leaves the restroom, the system takes less than 30 seconds to clean the inside with its water and soap sprinklers. It wipes itself. The WC also automatically cleans itself, and finally the entire unit is sucked of all the excess water, leaving it sparkling clean for the next user.