A sticky poo battle

MM informal settlement residents, from left; Noluntu Diko, Nosamkele Bokwana and Khanyiso Mendela outside the toilets that they say are not cleaned by the City.

Fuming Site B residents said they have had enough of living next to communal toilets which often overflow and are not always cleaned by contractors employed to maintain them.

They alleged that the toilets were the only ones which were not cleaned in the area while others, in other parts of the community were being cleaned frequently.

Noluntu Ndiko said she had not been consulted before the four toilets were erected next to her house in 2007.

Ms Ndiko lives in the informal settlement of MM section, opposite the informal settlement of BBM section.
The communal toilets serve the entire community, including the residents of BBM section.

When the toilets were first installed, she said, she never experienced any issues as they were cleaned regularly. But, she said, as time went by the state of the toilets deteriorated because they were not being cleaned.

Ms Ndiko said she has learnt to live with the smell of faeces but the ongoing blockages had been a major problem and was creating a health hazard for her and her children.

Ms Ndiko said what pains her the most was the lack of urgency from municipal officers who, she said, have not responded to her numerous complaints. She added that sometimes it took more than six months for municipal workers to fix the toilets when they had been blocked.

Meanwhile, the area become flooded with human excrement.

Ms Ndiko said the last time the toilets were cleaned was at the beginning of the year. As result, she said, she and her neighbours decided to clean them themselves as they could no longer bear the unpleasant smell.

She said there were sub-contractors who were sometimes employed to clean and maintain the toilets. However, it became problematic when the contract of those sub-contractors ended and another had to be appointed.

“I have been forced to be a prisoner in my house because of these smelly toilets. When it is hot I can’t even open windows,” she said. Ms Ndiko said whenever she reports the blockage of the toilets she is always promised that the toilets would be fixed, but this doesn’t happen.

The residents claim that they have informed the councillor that they want the toilets removed or they would demolish them.

Ward councillor Ntombiyebala Mquqwana confirmed that the toilets had not been cleaned and that she had met with the residents to hear their complaints.

“I have sent an inquiry to the local department of water and sanitation to inquire why the toilets had not been cleaned. I’m still waiting for them to schedule a meeting between me and them to table the grievances of the residents. And if we do not find an amicable solution, we will then have to find a plan B to address these issues,” she said.

The City of Cape Town’s spokesperson, Priya Reddy, said the City met with the community and ward councillors on Tuesday October 11. Ms Reddy said the recent lack of a top-up janitorial services was due to challenges in the recruitment of janitors. “We are now, however, in the final stages of recruitment, and expect services to begin shortly,” she said.