Mshengu toilets down again

| Mary-Anne Gontsana
Photo by Axolile Notywala.

Mshengu’s blue chemical toilets have once again toppled over in Khayelitsha’s BM Section causing residents to defecate in the bushes.

The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) conducted a site visit in BM Section last week. When speaking to residents about the fallen toilets, SJC members were told that they have been lying there for the past two weeks and no effort has been made to erect them.

GroundUp ran a story early last year where the same thing happened in BM Section.

The SJC’s Isaac Mbadu said no one in the community knew what had caused the toilets to fall down. “The fallen toilets are next to the flush toilets which currently do not work, so people are now going to the bushes when they need to relieve themselves. The people who service and clean the toilets are the ones who are supposed to be erecting them when they have fallen but they have not. These toilets are put in rows and about six of them are down.”

Mshengu Toilet Hire is paid by the City of Cape Town to install and maintain toilets in the city’s informal settlements. In April last year, the SJC held a public hearing after they had conducted an audit of Mshengu’s toilets. The audit found, among other things, that more than half of the toilets were in an unusable state and two thirds were damaged. They were not regularly cleaned and many were extremely unhygienic. No toilets were secured to the ground and residents complained that they could easily topple over from a strong wind or be pushed over. Two hundred and fifty six toilets were inspected.

Mshengu Toilet Hire’s general manager, Hilton Cupido, said the fixing of the toilets to the ground has been a contentious issue. He explained that the toilets weighed 55 kg and to fix them to the ground would mean tying them with a wire cable and holding them with a peg to the ground.

“But that would be dangerous because people could easily hurt themselves by tripping over these cables. We are currently working on this issue at the moment, by fitting concrete slabs at the bottom of the toilet to attach it to the ground. This has started already in parts of Khayelitsha and other townships like Langa. Once a toilet has fallen it is up to the service vehicles that clean the toilets to lift them up or see that they are replaced if they are damaged. Depending on the contract the service vehicle comes daily, every second or every third day in the areas. In terms of monitoring the toilets, community leaders are responsible for this as well as monitors hired by the City of Cape Town. Each time a service vehicle goes out, the truck is ticked off on the system, its registration is taken down and a document is signed at the end to say that the toilets in this particular area have been serviced,” said Cupido.

TOPICS:  Civil Society Health Human Rights Local government Sanitation

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