Survey highlights deteriorating service to informal settlements by municipalities
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Cape Town - A new survey claims that municipalities have reduced services to informal settlements and that more than 75% of residents say that it takes longer than a month for the government to fix broken taps and toilets.
According to the survey, carries out by the Asivikelane campaign representing informal settlement dwellers, this state of affairs is as a result of national Covid-19 relief funding to municipalities having run out and the general decline in the revenues due to metros and municipalities.
Asivikelane said: “Municipalities have started reducing services to informal settlements and contracts for filling water tanks have been allowed to expire. Residents often give up on the government and use their own money to fix taps and toilets.
“Communal taps and toilets in informal settlements are used by many people and need regular maintenance. The regularity of toilet cleaning has been reduced and maintenance teams have been reduced in size and in local municipalities the situation is even worse,” said the statement.
During the survey, Asivikelane received responses from 849 residents from 211 settlements in municipalities including the City of Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Knysna, Cederberg and the City of Johannesburg.
One of the residents surveyed from Engcwabeni informal settlement in Philippi said: "We do have water taps but all are broken. In order for us in this informal settlement area to get water we have to negotiate with residents in formal houses. If we at least get our taps running we will be much happier."
The survey used a traffic light system to indicate how municipalities were doing.
“Knysna and Mossel Bay’s traffic lights for toilet cleaning/draining are greyed out because residents clean their own toilets with materials provided by the government,” said the statement.
Spokesperson for Mossel Bay municipality Nickey le Roux said: “The municipality is fortunate to have received a number of previous green lights from Asivikelane, most notably at the height of the Covid-19 first surge and specifically during phase 5 of the lockdown.
“Mossel Bay Municipality has engaged contractors to assist with the cleaning and sanitising of ablutions in the informal settlements specifically during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the community has responded overwhelmingly positive to the initiative,” said Le Roux.
The City’s Mayco Member for Finance, Ian Neilson, said: “Due to the strong management at the City, we have proven to be resilient even amid the impact of Covid-19 and the national (lockdown) regulations.
“The unprecedented spike in large-scale organised unlawful occupations are, however, placing pressure on service delivery and there is a great demand for services from newly-formed settlements. As a temporary measure, the City has enhanced service provision in some of these areas where it is possible to do so.”
Community Organisation Resource Centre managing director Charlton Ziervogel said: “We want to use the Asivikelane campaign to create better dialogue between municipalities and informal settlement residents.
“It is our hope that meaningful dialogue can be generated through communities raising their concerns and that sufficient access to basic services across all informal settlements can be achieved if local government and communities can build a working relationship,” said Ziervogel.