The second phase of the flushed toilet project has been rolled out in Overcome Heights.
Normally five families are allocated to a toilet. However, in Overcome Heights the numbers have been adjusted to two families per toilet due to families saving space, says Felicity Purchase, chairperson of subcouncil 19. “This prevents women and children from having to walk 100m to the toilets.”
The toilets have to be opened by the families that are using them and be cleaned by the City of Cape Town. However, some go for days without being cleaned as they are locked by the users and they take the keys with them.
Despite the minor glitches here and there, residents say they are happy with the toilets.
Resident Malvin Manuel says: “It’s better and a lot more hygienic. People were throwing water all over and urinating everywhere, making the place very unpleasant. Now we have toilets that we have to share for two families. It was really bad, but now we can sleep much better.”
Though this might be a milestone being reached by the City, residents say a lot more still needs to be done.
With over 4000 people in the area and just over 160 toilets, residents believe there is still room for more toilets. “We have a lot of people here and these toilets are still not enough. We were supposed to have 65 new toilets, but we ended up getting only 15 because the survey was poorly done. A lot of work still needs to be done because we still need those toilets. The ground is not level so we can’t have the toilets that we need. Unless that is looked into, people will continue to share the toilets,” said William Lewis, vice chairperson of the Overcome Heights committee.
Lewis says their roads need to be worked on to allow for them to have more toilets.
“The roads can’t allow for pipes or drainages. A proper survey needs to be done and we still want those 50 toilets that were returned because the streets can’t have them. The roads are very poor and they hold water so that must be looked at so that we get out toilets. Two families per toilet is still too much: it’s over 15 people using one toilet. I have a plan of what I want to see in this area,” he says.
“There are a lot of challenges, but we will tackle them one after the other. People are suffering; they need houses. Having toilets will help them a lot and it means that they won’t get sick easy. Though this area is a little safer we don’t want anyone walking out a night to go to their nearest toilet.”
He added that residents must also do their part in meeting the City half-way.
“The City is trying to help us and we must also maintain what they are giving us. Some people here are dirty. They don’t look after the toilets properly, they misuse them and at the end of the day they become dirty and unusable. I’m calling on everyone here to take good care of what we are being given. We will continue to fight for better but look after what you have,” says Lewis.
People who don’t have toilets near them still use the bucket system. The buckets are cleaned every second day.