RR Section’s overflowing toilets still unfixed
An unbearable smell lingers in the air of RR Section to the point where you can taste it. This is the daily struggle for Khayelitsha residents who live next to overflowing drains and toilets that still remain unfixed by the City of Cape Town.
Nozibele Ngcoza, lives next to the toilets and has four children. While GroundUp was in RR Section, her eldest child, aged 6, was sick in bed with diarrhoea, while Ngcoza’s six-month-old was also suffering from diarrhoea and was vomiting.
“I started living here in 2011 and these toilets were installed in 2013. The minute we started using them, they did this, while sitting on the toilet you would just feel the water rising in the pot and you had to jump up. We have reported this to the City a number of times, the last time being last week, but no one has come [to fix it].”
“Those who do come just inspect and leave and nothing is done to fix these toilets. We use the toilets opposite now which work perfectly and get cleaned. Our ones aren’t even cleaned anymore … the dirty water comes out from the toilets and goes into my house through the holes that have been dug by rats.”
“We have big white rats that look like cats. Have you ever seen a white rat? Well that is what we have this side because it is filthy. This is not life. We have even approached our ward councillor and asked him to move us elsewhere but he told us there was no space available to move us to,” said Ngcoza.
Ngcoza says they have even tried selling their homes, but no one is interested. Right behind Ngcoza’s home is a wetland, with long grass and weeds; the area gets filled with mosquitoes and insects during hot weather.
Mayco member for Utility Services Ernest Sonnenberg confirmed that the City had received complaints about the toilets and they were “attending to the problems.”
“Due to the recent heavy rains, there was a marked increase in reports of blockages”
“Complaints are responded to as soon as resources allow. Due to the recent heavy rains, there was a marked increase in reports of blockages. In this case the residents had removed manhole covers to allow water to drain from low lying areas. This allowed rubble and litter to accumulate in the system and create blockages. It must be noted that the sewerage system is not designed to accommodate stormwater, and thus it should be expected that overflows will occur whenever manhole covers are removed for this purpose,” said Sonnenberg.
One of the toilets overflows even when it hasn’t been used. Photo by Mary-Anne Gontsana.
The Social Justice Coalition’s Ntuthuzelo Vika said he had also reported the situation in RR to the water and sanitation department. “I was told that the sewerage system was filled with dirt and that they couldn’t clean because the area was not their jurisdiction. I was told to go and report the matter at Khaya Bazaar, but you’d think, since this is an emergency, they would help. These women are already well known in the clinics because they constantly take their babies there when they get sick.”
Sonnenberg said residents should always take note of their reference number so that the operator can advise them of the status of their service request. He added that residents should not throw litter, clothing or anything else that would cause a blockage in the system.
But for now Ngcoza’s children and their friends are not safe.
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