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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town says it will not replace portable toilets with a solar-powered model presented by Khayelitsha activists because it would not work in the city’s winter and smacks of a money-making venture.
Mayco member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg said the SmartSan recycle toilet unit could be problematic because the lack of winter sun would not provide sufficient energy for the system.
The manufacturer, New World Sanitation, denies it.
The Cape Town Informal Settlements Leaders group said it would end poo-flinging protests if mayor Patricia de Lille started installing SmartSan units before the end of the month.
Sonnenberg dismissed the ultimatum as a publicity stunt for “political point scoring”.
“There is a very real scepticism that the reason for the sudden enthusiasm for this system is for financial gain. The city has a tender process that is followed according to legislation.
“They should leave the experts to do their jobs and stop putting politics over the needs of communities.”
He said New World Sanitation had not received approval from the city to install the system at the BM-Section in Khayelitsha, where it has been tested by three families since February.
The system has a 300-litre water tank and two other tanks for ventilation and waste storage. It is fitted with a solar-powered pump and can connect up to four flush toilets.
Bacteria is used to dissolve waste, toilet paper and newspapers into liquid.
New World Sanitation owner Jürgen Graupe said that contrary to previous reports, the unit in Khayelitsha had not been piloted by his company, but had been bought by one Lwandile Baba and a partner for testing ahead of a possible mass roll-out.
The media was shown the system by former ANC councillor Andile Lili, city councillor Loyiso Nkohla and others as an alternative to portable toilets.
Sonnenberg said the company had approached the city late last year to provide the toilet service but had failed to provide test results which the city requested.
Sonnenberg said the system’s R20 000 price tag was not affordable.
There was also the question of density at informal settlements in the metro, which would make it impossible to install.
Sonnenberg said the city had experimented with similar technology, but it had failed.
Graupe denied that the product would cause problems in winter. “The system has been working properly for the last seven months, through winter, in Khayelitsha. People are satisfied with it. The city must say if it has a problem with the price. To try and discredit the product is wrong.”
He said the company was seeking approval for SmartSan from the South African Bureau of Standards.