Peter Luhanga - September 19, 2020

The toilet row continues in Dunoon after informal settlement residents stopped the new City contractor, Sanitech, from entering the township’s informal settlements to render the services it has been contracted by the City to provide. Residents accuse Sanitech of doing a bad job previously when it was sub-contracted to Mshengu toilet hire, whose contract expired on 30 June 2020, after which Sanitech was due to take over the main contract. Since then the residents have come up with creative ways of emptying the faeces from full communal chemical toilets. One of the ways was to empty the buckets onto the N7, which they did on 17 August. A week after the faeces were strewn on the N7, residents pleaded with Mshengu Toilet hire to come back and clean their toilets for them, praising the company’s good service. Mshengu responded by sending eight trucks and accompanying staff to pump faeces out of the communal chemical toilets in eight informal settlements, free of charge.

South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) Dunoon branch deputy chairperson Messie Mpukane said residents have made it clear that they don’t want the Sanitech Toilet hire which was awarded the toilet cleaning tender on 29 April, and took over from Mshengu on 1 July. Mpukane said previously, when Sanitech was subcontracted to Mshengu, toilets were not cleaned properly for the duration of the subcontract, with their service being worst in Siyahlala and New Rest informal settlements. She said with the lack of a toilet cleaning service provider to regularly empty and clean the toilets, they are overflowing. “How can we accept someone (in reference to Sanitech) like that? How can you give a tender to someone who has failed dismally? When Sanitech was subcontracted to Mshengu it failed,” said Mpukane. As Iliso Labantu was conducting the interview, several informal settlement leaders agreed with Mpukane, stating the same grievances over and over. Currently faeces are emptied on public roads, onto Potsdam Road and the N7. In Doornbach site 5 informal settlements residents who had excreted in buckets empty the contents onto pathways. “The shit is being thrown onto Potsdam Road and the N7 in the past two weeks and some shit is being dumped at Killarney and some at MyCiTI Bus depot, she said.

Mayco member for waste and sanitation, Xanthea Limberg, in previous responses related to the same toilet row said Sanitech was a subcontractor to Mshengu Toilet Hire in a pocket in the Dunoon area for a threeyear contractual period and during this time, no complaints or queries regarding their service provision were submitted to the City or City officials, and therefore allegations that Sanitech rendered sub-standard services are without basis. “The City assures residents that once the new contractors have provided the replacement chemical toilets, their work performance will be closely monitored to ensure they are providing the service according to the conditions of their contracts. We encourage residents to give the new contractors the opportunity to provide their chemical toilets so that their service can be assessed once underway. The City will continue to monitor their operation and will take necessary action if they are not adhering to agreed service standards,” Limberg said. But Mpukane asked how the City can monitor Sanitech when it has failed to monitor its own service delivery in the township? “Faeces are overflowing everywhere in the formal RDP houses. The roads are worse than those in the Eastern Cape,” she said. Mshengu Toilet Hire operations manager Benjamin Milandou confirmed that Dunoon residents requested his company to clean their toilets and they obliged.

“We were under pressure. We received an email from the Dunoon leaders requesting that we go clean th toilets. We had no options but to go,” said Milandou. Commenting via its contracted public relations company, Sanitech’s managing director Robert Erasmus said the city has a legal process underway relating to the community. “Mshengu sent trucks without permission from the City. Sanitech expects to be able to roll out services by 22 September,” said Erasmus. But Milandou shot back, questioning how can it be illegal for his company to clean its own toilets in the township? “We cleaned our own toilets,” he said. A community leader who requested that his name be withheld, said the City should consider other methods of ending the row, as threatening legal action would not work. The community leader said the city had previously threatened legal action against residents who expressed unhappiness about bad service rendered by previous city contractors, to no avail.

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