Three years later, incomplete Isipingo informal settlement ablution blocks lie unused
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DURBAN - THREE years after public ablution blocks were installed at the Uganda informal settlement in Isipingo, the facilities stand unused and vandalised, while local residents say their pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears.
The residents said the eThekwini Municipality installed incomplete ablution blocks three years ago.
Eric Cele, a Uganda settlement community member, said the issue of the incomplete ablution blocks was a long-standing one.
He said the municipality installed two containers with six toilets and two showers about three years ago, but no water supply was connected to the blocks and the facilities were then taken over by vagrants, who moved in and vandalised the toilets and showers.
“People started sleeping inside the containers and they started vandalising and selling the parts,” he said.
Cele said that Uganda residents met the ward 90 committee regarding the matter, but received no feedback.
“We are only getting help from people outside in the surrounding communities,” he said.
He said residents were concerned for their health, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The problem that we have is that people around here have got children who are just relieving themselves everywhere … We are living in an unhealthy situation, it’s very bad,” said Cele. He said when the ablution blocks were installed, people were hired to clean the facilities.
“We traced these people and found that they are still getting paid, whereas the toilets are vandalised,” he said.
Ward 90 community activist Sunil Ramadhar said residents spoke to the ward committee about the situation at the beginning of the month.
However, Ramadhar said they had received no response from the committee or from the ward councillor, adding that both parties have been dealing with this matter for the past two years.
Ward 90 councillor Sunil Brijmohan said he had raised the issue of the ablution blocks in different areas with the head of eThekwini Municipality’s Water and Sanitation Department, Ednick Msweli. The Mercury has seen messages sent to Msweli in which the issue was reported.
“The ablution facilities that need to be looked at are in the following areas: Dakota, Uganda and Pelgrim. These are giving our people a huge problem,” Brijmohan said in a WhatsApp message.
On May 15, Msweli responded in a message that the complaint had been escalated.
In response to questions from The Mercury, the municipality said work would resume at the unfinished toilet and shower facilities installed at the Uganda informal settlement.
Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said one of the issues that affected the completion of the project was an incident where a business forum stopped the work.
Mayisela said when the city was about to complete the project, the country was hit with the hard lockdown due to Covid-19.
“After the country got back to level 1, we had to reprioritise the finalisation of the project and, as a result, the work will be carried out on the site to the benefit of this community,” he said. He added that the city had spent “hundreds of millions” of rand building similar facilities in other communities.
“The city would like to apologise for the inconvenience this has caused the residents of Uganda informal settlement,” he said.