Health-e (Cape Town)

4 October 2012

South Africa: De Lille Admits Janitor Services Stink

Photo: West Cape News
Khayelitsha: The janitorial service kicked off in June following a campaign by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and was supposed to have employed 500 community members as janitors to clean communal flush toilets, standpipes and surrounding areas, conduct minor repairs of flush toilets and report all instances where more extensive repairs are needed.

Mayor Patricia de Lille has admitted that the City's janitorial services in informal services needed to be jacked up and her office has taken over the monitoring of this service.

De Lille this week apologised to the affected communities and instructed the City Manager to investigate the failure and take action.

Health-e recently reported that the landmark daily janitorial service for communal toilets in the City's informal settlements - launched with great fanfare in May by De Lille - had come to a grinding halt.

However, the person responsible Councillor Shehaam Sims, Mayoral Committee Member for Utilities in the City doggedly denied this on more than one occasion.

The janitorial service kicked off in June following a campaign by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and was supposed to have employed 500 community members as janitors to clean communal flush toilets, standpipes and surrounding areas, conduct minor repairs of flush toilets and report all instances where more extensive repairs are needed. Training was supposed to prepare them to conduct these minor repairs.

However, interviews with the now unemployed janitors and community members revealed that almost none of the above materialized and the project hardly got off the ground before it was halted.

In an about turn, De Lille revealed in a statement this week that after an extensive review of the efficacy of the rollout of janitorial services, including studying evidence provided by the SJC, "it has become evident that the City of Cape Town has not managed this programme effectively".

She said that while the City did deploy 282 janitors to identified areas, she confirmed earlier reports that there was insufficient monitoring of the service provided, inadequate training, and delays in the provision of protective clothing.

Sims had previously denied all of this.

"Of further concern is that little or no provision was made for community consultation or education on the nature of the service provided.

"In light of these shortcomings, I would like to apologise to the affected communities and make it clear that the City is determined to address these identified weaknesses, in conjunction with the SJC and other relevant role-players. I have instructed the City Manager to investigate the lack of monitoring by the Utility Services Department and take appropriate action," said De Lille.

She added that the provision of janitorial services, a first project of its kind in South Africa, at this scale was an important part of the strategy to build a Caring City and to improve levels of service delivery in informal settlements.

She said that after a series of meetings between the City of Cape Town and the SJC, they have agreed on a number of remedial actions.

This includes informing the community about the contents of the Service Level Agreements with contractors so that they can assist the City in monitoring their performance.

Monthly monitoring meetings will be scheduled with the Mayor's Office and all other stakeholders. De Lille undertook to closely monitor the revised rollout of this service to communities.

She added that the City's Policy on Janitorial Services will be evaluated and public engagements will be solicited as part of the policy development process. A mini-summit will be convened within a month to provide the basis for the development of a City Policy on Janitorial Services.

The SJC welcomed the City's apology and commitment to improve the service."Of particular importance is their commitment to engage all affected communities and affected stakeholders over the coming month, and develop a policy and plan," the SJC said in a statement.

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InFocus

South Africa: The State of Cape Town's Janitor Services

Khayelitsha: The janitorial service kicked off in June following a campaign by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and was supposed to have employed 500 community members as janitors to clean communal flush toilets, standpipes and surrounding areas, conduct minor repairs of flush toilets and report all instances where more extensive repairs are needed.

The city's mayor has apologised for the failure of a janitorial service aimed to improve sanitation in informal settlements after it was revealed that the project was hardly ... Read more »