Bucket deadline missed

2018-08-29 06:00
Pit latrine toilets are used by some residents in Phase 6, a newly formed settlement in Bloemfontein. Photo: Dan Xangaza

Pit latrine toilets are used by some residents in Phase 6, a newly formed settlement in Bloemfontein. Photo: Dan Xangaza

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The Free State remains the focus of the unhygienic bucket toilet system, having missed out on meeting the deadlines after it was extended.

Target dates set by government for the eradication of bucket toilets, further extended to 2015, were missed.

A report released by the South African Humans Rights Commission (SAHRC) late in 2017 indicated that the Free State still has the highest number of bucket toilets – 32 000 – in use.

The Free State’s predicament with bucket toilets resurfaced during the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation on 15 and 16 August.

The committee, accompanied by authorities of the provincial Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) conducted an oversight in Thaba Nchu, Botshabelo, Senekal, Clocolan, Marquard and Winburg.

According to Dr Tseliso Ntili, provincial head of the DWS, a renewed effort to eradicate bucket toilets is being made by a joint task team consisting of the DWS, the Mangaung Metro, the South African Local Government Association (Salga), the Department of Cooperative Gover­nance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and Bloemwater.

Ntili said the team was established after Gugile Nkwinti, minister of Water and Sanitation, visited the province in June for inspection to introduce a rapid acceleration of the bucket eradication programme.

This had come after another deadline had been missed by the national DWS to eradicate 22 085 bucket toilets by March 2018.

The target date was moved to June. However, no significant strides were made despite the extension.

According to Ntili budget constraints, among other challenges, have been a stumbling block to reach the targets.

The Mangaung Metro is faced with the inability to collect revenue, while small municipalities are under administration after declared dysfunctional and hamstrung by poor financial administration.

Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu remain a major concern for the Mangaung Metro. Here, some residents utilise pit latrine toilets.

“Towns are not all the same size and the piping from the toilets to the waste water treatment works are also a cost factor. We wanted to introduce a dry toilet system, but communities opted for a water-borne system that impacts on the water supply of towns,” said Ntili.

He highlighted the rapid growth in some communities as yet ano­ther factor impacting on the process to eradicate bucket toilets.

“When informal settlements are formalised, this adds to the already high backlog,” Ntili explained.

The Portfolio Committee is expected back in the province after three months to inspect progress.

In 2003 cabinet approved the strategic framework for water services aimed at eradicating the bucket system by 2006.

However, deadlines were not met. The SAHRC revealed in its report in September last year that a large percentage of households in the Free State had no sanitation facilities.

The report showed that the number of bucket toilets had significantly dropped from 17,2% in 2002 to 5,5% in 2017.

Areas where bucket toilets are still being used include Winburg and Theunissen (Masilonyana Municipality).

Most residents in Boshof, Dealesville and Hertzogville (Tokologo Municipality) also reportedly use bucket toilets.

It is estimated that the Free State would need R458 million to eradicate bucket toilets, having reportedly spend about R252 million (R15 000 per toilet) during the 2016-’17 financial term.

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