Durban residents will take to the streets if City doesn’t clean up its act

Municipality unresponsive on blocked and broken toilets in Siyathuthuka

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Photo of a toilet
Municipal toilets in the ablution block at Siyathuthuka in Durban have not been cleaned for almost a year, say angry residents. Photo: Nokulunga Majola

Residents of Siyathuthuka informal settlement in Durban say their communal toilets hardly ever get cleaned, often overflow and are a health hazard to the community. They say they feel completely ignored by eThekwini Municipality.

Residents are concerned about blocked, portable toilets and a dilapidated ablution block.

The portable toilets were installed at the entrance of the settlement by Santech over ten years ago as part of a contract with eThekwini Municipality. A source inside Santech, who asked to remain anonymous, said the contract with the City expired in June 2017. “We got resistance from the residents when we tried to remove the toilets. We have been cleaning them at our costs for some time now.”

“I was told that the contract for the toilets had expired. Therefore it is the City’s responsibility to empty the toilets every week. The problem is the City doesn’t do it and we have to suffer,” said Innocent Mathaba, chairperson of the settlement. “Every time the toilets overflow, I have to contact the company that supplied the toilets to come and clean them.”

Ward councillor Ashok Maharajh said he is “getting no joy from the municipality”. He said he has made several calls and sent emails to the municipality to have the matter sorted out, but to no avail.

GroundUp first emailed eThekwini municipality about the situation on 3 July 2018. Several more emails were sent and calls made thereafter, to no avail. The municipality eventually replied on 20 July saying the matter had been escalated to the water and sanitation department.

“This is a huge problem for us and no one seems to be doing anything about it,” said resident Ntombifuthi Blose. “We need toilets, but when they overflow it’s our lives at risk … The smell is too unbearable.” Blose said she feared cholera would break out.

She said the toilets have been placed on each side of the only street in the settlement and the children have nowhere else to play.

Shack dwellers in another part of the settlement on Johanna Road say the toilets at the ablution block near them are blocked and unusable. “It’s been close to a year now and nothing is happening, instead it’s getting worse … We are all human. No one deserves to live in such conditions,” said Mathaba.

Besides the blockages, doors, windows and toilet seats are broken.

Mathaba said residents would be taking to the streets. “Maybe that is the only solution and way the municipality understands,” he said.

TOPICS:  Sanitation

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