Cape Town - They are no bigger than the average flat-screen TV and take up less space than a comfy armchair but new portable flush toilets given to residents of a number of informal settlements in Seawinds on Monday will improve the lives of 1 500 families.

The city handed the Porta Pottis to residents of The Heights, a series of informal settlements that include Overcome Heights, Military Heights and Village Heights.

Shaun August, the chairman of the city’s utility services portfolio committee, said the move was part of the city’s manifesto to restore “dignity” to people in informal settlements.

Residents previously shared 400 chemical toilets and 99 concrete full-flush toilets. At night they used buckets. “It’s dangerous at night to use the outside toilets, as the area is infested with gangsterism and a lot of tik monsters,” August said, speaking to hundreds of residents at the Seawinds sports field.

“The portable flush toilets will not replace the existing services of chemical and full-flush toilets in the area but will rather add to the provisions of sanitation facilities and enhance the dignity and safety of residents.”

August said the new toilets would be rolled out to other informal settlements across the Western Cape.

They are 414mm in length and 425mm wide, and just 383mm high. August said they would be serviced three times a week by an outsourced company. They cost R1 200 each.

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Cape Argus