R600-million project failed as pit toilets collapse in Chris Hani Municipality

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R600-million project failed as pit toilets collapse in Chris Hani Municipality
Toilets built for residents of Magwala village in Cofimvaba have collapsed. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik / Groundup

Residents of Chris Hani municipality battling with broken toilets. Pit toilets built in villages have collapsed.

Flush toilets are a pipe dream for residents of villages in the Chris Hani district in the Eastern Cape using broken pit toilets built by the municipality.

Residents of Ngcobo Bojana village and Cofimvaba Magwala village say the pit toilets built by the district municipality a few years ago were poor quality and some broke down.

They would love to have flush toilets, but the lack of infrastructure and unreliable water sources makes this impossible, says Chris Hani District Municipality spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa. Kowa said the problem was the same all over the country. Rural areas did not have infrastructure for modern day sanitation systems and water sources were unreliable, he said.

The pit toilets in Bojana village were built late in 2010, but residents say the structures collapsed immediately in the rain, or at best lasted only months. They say the municipality promised to fix the toilets but six years later has not done so.

Unemployed father of two Bonginkosi Dunga said the back of his toilet fell down a long time ago. “When I go to the toilet I have to wait until it is dark and make sure no one sees me,” said Dunga.

He said he also had to count the seconds and leave the toilet very fast before anyone sees him.

In Magwala village the pit toilets were built in 2008, but most did not last. Instead of fixing the broken toilets, residents say, the municipality installed new toilets for other households.

Siyabonga Ntayi from Magwala village said he only used his toilet for a month before the seat fell down through the hole.

“I had just left it when it fell down,” he said.

Ntayi said he uses the bushes to relieve himself.

Resident Sibabalo Nyaka said he had built two pit toilets himself after the one built by the municipality collapsed after a few months.

But Kowa said he was not aware of the problem. He said a R600-million project commissioned in 2012 aimed to bring pit toilets to all rural areas. Broken toilets would be fixed only after new toilets had been provided for those who did not have them, he said.

By Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

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