Delays in cleaners’ contracts leave toilets dirty and blocked

Nearly 400 households at Kliprand informal settlement in Gqeberha share these toilets

By Mkhuseli Sizani

29 August 2022

These toilets at Kliprand Informal Settlement in Gqeberha are dirty and have been vandalised since cleaners stopped working because their contracts were not renewed in June. Photos: Mkhuseli Sizani

Families at Kliprand Informal Settlement in Gqeberha say they would rather use buckets than the vandalised and blocked toilets in the settlement.

The toilets have not been maintained or cleaned since June because the contracts of Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) cleaners have not yet been renewed by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. Since work has come to a halt, the toilets that had been working are now badly vandalised or blocked.

The 72 communal toilets, shared by nearly 400 households, were built in 2019. Residents say the toilets were shoddily built. After lockdown in 2021, cleaners were appointed on six-month contracts but this ended in June this year.

Resident Juneen Carolus was among 12 people contracted to clean the toilets. She said it’s been tough to provide for her family of eight without the monthly stipend of R3,900.

“This has left me and my family hungry. I have been in this project for almost two and half years. The money I got from cleaning helped me buy food and take my four children to school,” she said.

She said her family relies on her grandmother’s social grant which is not enough to cover their expenses. “I owe the loan sharks a lot of money because I was hoping by now we would be back at work. Sometimes I do people’s washing for R50,” Carolus said.

One of the toilets that have not been cleaned since June.

Belinda McMaster said, “The toilets are disgusting and leak day and night. Many of them are blocked and have maggots.”

She has volunteered to clean one of the toilets her family shares with eight other households. “There is no way I can leave the toilets dirty because it will cause me and my children to get infections.”

Ward 33 Councillor Mzwandile Sidina promised that the cleaning would be done soon. “We have a problem with workers wanting to work forever. The project is meant for everyone who is jobless. Each person is only meant to work for six months,” he said.

Asked whether the vandalised and faulty toilets would be fixed, he said, “The municipality will appoint the contractor to fix all the faulty toilets. Those who had contracts before are not allowed to be employed again in this project.”

Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki confirmed that the programme is meant to provide temporary water, sanitation and jobs to communities. “After six months we employ a new group of the workers. Our budget starts from July to following year July. The project was stopped in June because of new budget allocations.” On Monday morning, the community confirmed that the old workers will work for three months before new contracts are signed with a different group.