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Contractor takes toilets

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The area is now divided into two phases and more shacks are going up

RESIDENTS living in the Lethabo Park informal settlement in Roodepan are now without toilets . . . because they have been removed by the contractor.

It appears as if the toilets were removed because the Sol Plaatje Municipality has failed to pay the contractor. When reporters visited the settlement yesterday, only one toilet was left.

According to residents they watched as the contractor loaded the toilets onto a truck on Saturday. When they asked the contractor what was going on, they were told that the municipality had failed to pay him and that chances are slim that he would get his money in the near future.

Lethabo Park, previously known as Bogonia Park, consists of more than 170 shacks and the settlement was established more than 13 years ago.

Surveyed

The area is now divided into two phases and more shacks are going up. The area was surveyed in October 2019 after which evicted residents from Phutanang were moved there.

According to residents the municipality provided them with eight toilets in Phase 1, while Phase 2 received no facilities. The toilets were stationed at various points throughout the settlement.

The toilets were then regularly maintained by the contractor, who visited the area twice a week.

Residents are now demanding answers from the municipality, claiming that the lack of payment from the municipality had become clear even before the contractor removed the toilets.

“The contractor started neglecting emptying the toilets,” one of the residents said.

They also said that they have been demanding intervention from the municipality following the survey process because taps supplying water to the residents were set up in areas and yards that were difficult to access.

Following the removal of the toilets, they now have no alternative but to use a nearby veld, but they fear for their safety. Another option is to use buckets inside their shacks.

A single mother of two, Sheila Bengu, who was moved to the area from Phutanang, expressed her disappointment in the municipality for failing them. She stays next to the veld and said that people are already using it as a “toilet”.

“We have elderly among us. Imagine an elderly person going to relieve herself in the veld. No person can be that inhuman,” Bengu added.

Another resident said that they, as a community, have kept an eye on the toilets as they felt fortunate to be provided with them.

According to Norman Steenkamp the lack of toilets “strips the dignity of people, especially women” and he expressed concern about the small children he sees using the veld.

The Sol Plaatje Municipality yesterday failed to clarify the situation despite attempts to get comment.