‘Temporary’ toilets spark fury

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HEALTH HAZARD: Thobelani Lena is not happy with the new pit toilets which are being built behind his house for the shack dwellers in the R section in Mlungisi Picture: BHONGO JACOB
HEALTH HAZARD: Thobelani Lena is not happy with the new pit toilets which are being built behind his house for the shack dwellers in the R section in Mlungisi Picture: BHONGO JACOB

A MLUNGISI resident is fuming after waking up to find pit toilets being built for shack dwellers who live right behind his house in the R section of the township.
Thobelani Lena said he was startled when he saw construction workers digging holes behind his yard. “I have been a resident here all my life and this has never happened. This project started a month ago. I saw people digging and asked what the holes were for and was told it was for new toilets. I asked how toilets could be built right behind my yard and they said I must ask the councillor.
“My councillor took my report to his managers and came back saying the project was not permanent. Even if it is a temporary plan, it still poses a health hazard to my family, but they continued anyway. It could cause conflict between me and the neighbours. I do not want to appear mean and I am not saying people should not have toilets, but they could look for another place. There is a lot of space. The councillor said the toilets will be maintained but I do not trust that. The municipality promises they will have people to look after the toilets and ensure they are not broken into.”
Lena said he had been sent from pillar to post by both Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) and Enoch Mgijima Municipality.
“It’s been a month and I have no answers. The Chris Hani Municipality health inspectors told me it has nothing to do with them and referred me to Enoch Mgijima. The guy there who can help me is always at a workshop,” he said.
As his house is just a few metres from the toilets, he fears the smell if the toilets are damaged. “They did not even ask me before doing this and it is done without us being informed. This really shows disrespect. The toilets are right next to our kitchen so what will happen when they are damaged? Community toilets get blocked and over flow and that smell will be in our kitchen.”
Ward 17 councillor Mncedisi Mbengo said he was aware of the problem and had reported the matter to the CHDM. CHDM communications manager Thobeka Mqamelo said the toilets were a temporary measure and had been placed on site after consultation with representatives from the area.
“The sanitation structures in the informal settlement are an interim arrangement that seeks to provide better, dignified sanitation services for the residents as previously there was nothing. During the construction and thereafter, the municipality was never made aware of any dissatisfaction with the location of the structures. The committee members approved of the project and they selected the sites. We will, however, investigate the discontent and make a determination in consultation with the residents and the affected household.”

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