Nine hundred Upington learners start school without any toilets at all

Mobile toilets company refuses to bring back toilets because owner says he has not been paid

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Photo of man addressing crowd of children at school
Principal Daniel Mokopi (in blue jacket) addresses learners at Ibhongo Lethu primary school on the first day of school. Photo: Selby Nomnganga

More than 900 learners at Ibhongo Lethu primary school in Upington started school today with no toilets at all.

There are four blocks of about six classrooms for learners from grades 1 to 7 with toilets for each block, in the school, which was built in 2014. But the toilets were vandalised in late 2018, and repairs to these toilets only started in December 2019 because in the meantime other problems had developed connecting toilets from the new Grade R classes to the sewerage system. Meanwhile, four mobile toilets were hired in 2018 for the 900 learners.

Since then, the grade R toilets have been connected, but the toilets for grades 1 to 7 are still not working. (Staff use the toilets in the administration block.)

And learners do not even have mobile toilets because the provider says he has not been paid for 2019 and has refused to bring back the toilets which were removed over the school holidays.

Newly appointed school principal Daniel Mokopi says: “We will hire mobile toilets again.” But Mxolisi Links of toilet provider Yonwabo O’loo says he will not supply toilets until the previous debt of about R21,600 is settled. The fee was R100 per day and R140 to service weekly.

As a result, on opening day there were no mobile toilets when GroundUp visited the school at 8am.

GroundUp sent questions to education MEC Mac Jack on Monday. In response, the MEC quoted from his general school readiness statement: “We will continue to do routine maintenance to schools and hostels, especially as it relates to the provision of water and sanitation.”

The building contractor could not be reached for comment.

TOPICS:  Education

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