Informal settlement builds own toilets after not receiving the service from the City
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Cape Town - Residents of newly-formed informal settlement in Khayelitsha have built their own non-flushable and flushable toilets and taps as they have been unable to obtain these basic services from the City of Cape Town.
Community leader of Level-Two informal settlement, Mabhelandile Twani, said that when the community realised that they had a sanitation problem, they decided to unite and tackle the issue.
He explained that the project was community-based and that everyone contributed the little they had, while skilled community members such as plumbers and electricians rendered their services for free.
At first the community built toilets, which required them to use grey water for flushing. These toilets use a similar mechanism that portable toilets use, waste travels to a bin where chemicals are used to decompose the waste. After getting more members on board, flushable toilets were developed at a later stage.
Twani explained that Level-Two was established last year and is home to roughly 12 000 community members who share 20 of these makeshift communal toilets. The community also shares a communal water system made by its community members but the settlement does not have electricity.
Twani said that despite the community having exhausted all means of trying to communicate with the City of Cape Town with regards to their basic needs and sanitation, their efforts are in vain and their pleas for help are ignored.
Ward councillor in the area, Patrick Mngxunyeni explained that communities that emerged from land invasions are unplanned and not in the City’s annual budget, however, the City should think of a solution to this problem as more communities are emerging throughout the metropolitan area.
“There is already a budget in plan, and the land that was unlawfully occupied was under that budget. They need to understand that they were not a part of the planned budget and the City is unable to cater for them.”
Mngxunyeni said that there are hundreds of people that are on the planned budget for housing and basic services and that new informal settlements cannot expect to be prioritised over people that have been in line before them.
Mngxunyeni added that he stands in solidarity with the community’s plea for flushable toilets and running water as the nation now enters the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Level-Two resident Ntombizodwa Ndleleni said that a simple activity such as going to the toilet is a difficult situation for the residents of Level-Two.
“It’s hard to approach landlords and have to ask to be able to use the toilet. Sometimes there is a queue and you have to wait in line no matter how desperate you are to relieve yourself. We have no electricity so we heavily rely on candles and paraffin heaters and lamps which could potentially burn down our homes.”
Community member Luleka Malumba said that the situation being faced by the community is a disaster. She explained that trying to use toilets regularly without a correct water-system is challenging. Due to the toilets being communal and shared by thousands she emphasised that it's an on-going struggle.
City of Cape Town mayco member for water and waste, Xanthea Limberg, said the City prohibits residents from making their own connections to the City’s water and sewage infrastructure as this greatly increases the risk of infrastructure failure and increases the risk of blockages. She added that Illegal water connections can also affect water pressure to surrounding areas.
Mayco member for human settlements, Malusi Booi explained that numerous newly-established communities have been demanding services but currently, the City is unable to cater for these unplanned settlements.
“Recognised informal settlements are prioritised on the basis of available resources, which are not limitless
“Planned and budgeted projects are prioritised. Assessments of all unlawfully occupied areas are being undertaken and will continue to be undertaken across the metro. Noting that the far greatest majority of the settlements have been established on unsuitable land or land with great constraints for service delivery and land where the installation of bulk services for servicing was never planned.”