Dozens of toilets gather dust as Newcastle municipality fails to complete project

Municipality says it has no funds

Photo of a pile of toilets

Toilets are gathering dust on a building site while Newcastle residents wait for better sanitation. Photo: Sibusiso Mdlalose

By Sibusiso Mdlalose

14 October 2019

Since January some 150 toilets have been lying on a building site near the informal settlement of F Section in Newcastle, after a project to install them was suddenly halted.

The project, launched in November 2018, was to replace pit toilets the residents have used since 2002 when the informal settlement was established. But flush toilets have been provided for only 30 households to date, with 146 not installed.

Ward councillor Fikile Gama said the project had been halted because of financial problems in the municipality.

“Our municipality is experiencing big financial constraints. Only 30 toilets had been provided out of 176 households allocated for the toilet project, when the building material became short. But, hopefully the project will be completed once the municipality has sorted financial problems, probably by next year,” said Gama, who was reluctant to explain what had happened to the budget allocated for the toilet project.

Doctor Ngwenya doubts he will ever have a flush toilet. Photo: Sibusiso Mdlalose

Doctor Ngwenya, 50, who has been a resident of F Section for 17 years, is losing hope that the toilet project in question will ever be completed. He said that during a meeting with residents in March, Gama had failed to tell residents what had happened to the money budgeted for the toilets.

He also expressed concern about the drainage of the pit toilets by lorries.

”The toilet drainage system in our area is also a big concern for us the local residents of this location. It’s very unreliable as it takes months before our toilets get drained. Sometimes it takes even three months before they are drained, and the stench becomes unbearable especially in this season of the year (summer),” complained Ngwenya.

Newcastle Municipality spokesman Dumisani Thabethe confirmed the municipality was in financial ”crisis”, but promised that the toilet project in F Section was “in the pipeline” to be completed next year.

The municipality owes Eskom more than R200 million.