South Africa: Only 15 Toilets to Serve 2,500 Shacks in PE

"Half a loaf is better than nothing," ward councillor says about the number of toilets to be shared by thousands

Residents of three informal settlements in Port Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief after receiving much-needed communal toilets this week.

"We are excited to have these toilets, but we still need more because we are many of us who live here," says Nompumelelo Mana, 63, who lives at Asinavalo where five mobile chemical toilets were delivered on Tuesday. Her home is one of about 500 shacks in the settlement.

Five toilets were also delivered to Nomakanjani which has about 2,000 shacks; another five toilets went to Endlovini, which has 50 shacks.

This follows several protests by these communities, calling for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to provide them with toilets, electricity and houses. For years residents here have been relieving themselves in shallow pits.

During a recent protest in March, Mayor Mongameli Bobani promised residents of Asinavalo that he would soon be giving them electricity, water and toilets.

"The government should not wait for citizens to protest first in order for it to provide services. I am pleased that results are starting to come," Mana said and added that her shack would soon be connected to electricity as well.

The installation of the toilets have also brought more job opportunities. Resident Thandani Rhawana, has been hired as a caretaker, tasked with cleaning and maintaining the area around the toilets.

The mother of three says she has a plan to ensure the toilets stay clean and are not vandalised. "The municipality gave me chemicals to clean them [the toilets]. I went to buy keys to lock the toilets and will open them from 6am and lock them at 9pm so that they won't be vandalized at night," she said.

Ward 53 councillor Nomazulu Mthi said the toilets would help residents of Endlovini in Colchester who, for the past ten years, were relieving themselves in the bush behind their shacks.

Mthi said that more toilets would be added during the municipality's current financial year. "These toilets are going to serve a huge population. It is said that half a loaf is better than nothing," she said. Mthi urged residents to keep the toilets in "good shape" and to keep an eye open for vandals.

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