Zara Nicholson

Metro Writer

THE city has acknowledged that it did not verify the servicing of chemical toilets in Khayelitsha by Mshengu Services and has undertaken to improve monitoring.

Last week the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Khayelitsha residents highlighted the dismal state of chemical toilets the city provided through its contractor Mshengu Services. A social audit of 256 toilets in four areas in Khayelitsha revealed that the city was being short-changed in the R164 million contract it awarded to Mshengu in 2010.

The contract for 5 000 chemical toilets ends next month.

Residents told of toilets not being cleaned as often as the Mshengu contract stipulated and about how more than half were unusable, either broken or blocked. They said an average of 17 families were using one chemical toilet though the city’s norm is five families.

The SJC launched a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to compel the city to provide the invoices for the contract to ascertain whether the city was getting value for money and whether the contract’s conditions were being upheld.

Yesterday mayor Patricia de Lille said the city was in the process of providing the SJC with details and invoices.

De Lille acknowledged that the city’s records of the contract showed that the city did not always verify each toilet serviced against the invoice and delivery note.

“The city acknowledges that we need to improve the monitoring of service providers for toilets to ensure that residents access the highest level possible of basic services at all times. We have taken remedial action to address this. To this end, we have appointed 266 staff members to improve our efforts to monitor the provision and maintenance of toilets services across the city,” De Lille said.

She would visit various communities later this month to engage with residents about the content of city service agreements with contractors.

“I will use these engagements to further appeal to the community to be the eyes and ears of the city to ensure that all our contractors deliver on their contractual obligations.”

Between 2010 and 2011 the city entered into contracts with four companies for the maintenance and provision of toilets in various areas and informal settlements. The value of the four contracts amounts to more than R255m for the servicing, maintenance and provision of flushing toilets, portable flush toilets, chemical and container toilets.

The city through its contractors is responsible for more than 35 000 toilets.

Mayco member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg said the city’s water and sanitation department tried to maintain the ratio of five families per toilet.

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