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The filthy state of public toilets

Broken windows, no doors, leaking pipes and damaged toilets – these are the conditions of the four public ablution facilities in Komani.
Two toilets are at the Komani Town Hall, one at the temporary taxi rank, while the other is next to the Nonesi Mall.
All four toilets visited by the Dispatch have been vandalised, with toilet seats broken and washbasins not in working condition, while water pipes have been stripped off.
Even though the toilets are cleaned, the leaking pipes and vandalism is evident when one enters the facilities.
Hawker Lungiswa Komani said they had to pay R2 to use the toilets, which were in a terrible state.
“You have to walk on water and sit on the toilet seat with everyone who is in the toilet seeing you because there are no doors.
“The ceiling is falling and there is no privacy there,” he said.
Komani said it was not safe for women to use the toilets.
“When the toilets are locked people start relieving themselves near the town hall.”
Naziwe Lali, who cleans one of the public toilets in the temporary taxi rank, said the municipality did not give her protective gloves.
“The municipality does not give me gloves and the last time I received a brush was more than five years ago. I have to buy my own cleaning equipment.
“I get the cleaning gel and three packets of toilet paper once a week from Enoch Mgijima local municipality,” she said.
“The toilet is not different from the other public toilets as it is leaking and it is not enough to service the people at the rank.
“Some people get in here and don’t flush properly and I have to get a bucket of water from the nearby informal settlement to clean the toilet.”
Because of this, Lali said she had resorted to locking the toilet as a way of preventing it from being blocked.
“I clean the toilet more than two times a day and it is worse on month ends when it is busy,” she said.
Taxi driver Loyiso Dyonase said the toilet at Nonesi Mall was always blocked.
“People urinate outside the toilet and on the hawkers’ stalls near the toilet.
“The toilet closes at 7pm but after that people do as they want and leave the area in a mess,” he said.
Enoch Mgijima municipal spokesperson Butsha Lali said they were “working” on fixing the state of public toilets, but would not elaborate what that plan entailed.
One of the toilets visited was closed because of water and sewerage leaks.
Located at the Jubilee taxi rank, the facilities were found to be in desperate need of repair, which the King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality said led to their closure.
A municipal worker allowed the Dispatch inside, and while the toilet bowls showed signs of regular cleaning, only a handful had toilet seats or cistern covers, and many were running and wasting water, highlighting the fact that most of the problems stem from vandalised and ageing infrastructure.
Outside, the sewerage was leaking, causing an unbearable stench, which a nearby hawker said had a negative impact on his business.
The Jubilee toilets are situated in a large area where more than 10 stalls are set up, meaning they were meant to cater for large numbers or people.
Other ablution facilities were closed and looked as though they had been converted into storage rooms with mops and boxes stashed inside.
While the Dispatch was busy taking photographs, many people who came to use the toilets instead saw a “blocked” sign, which caused complaints about having to pay R2 to use the mall toilets instead.
At the Circle Spar taxi rank toilets, only one cubicle was working, causing a long line of people waiting to use it.
KSD spokesperson Sonwabo Mampoza said there was a low water pressure problem at Jubilee but that OR Tambo municipality, being the water authority, had been notified and were attending to the matter.
He said parts were ordered for the Circle Spar rank and it should be fixed within the course of the month.
“We have prioritised the repairs but in the meantime, for the sake of the public’s health, we urge users to use alternative toilets,” said Mampoza.
Some public ablution facilities in Buffalo City Metro have been closed, resulting in residents relieving themselves out in the open – causing a big stench.
Public toilets at the popular East London hangout spot, Ebuhlanti, have been closed since the festive season, leaving scores of people who frequent it without any facility to relieve themselves.
As a result, people relieve themselves out in the open.
In Highway in Mdantsane, street vendors have complained of losing customers because of the stench from the toilets – which they claim are not cleaned very often.
When the Daily Dispatch visited Ebuhlanti during the week, the ablution facilities, which have not been used for a couple of years, remained closed.
Ebuhlanti Braaiers Association chairperson Nonkqubela Gobinduku said revellers had to relieve themselves in the open.
“This area has many people coming over to enjoy themselves every weekend yet the toilets are closed and not working.
“People end up messing up all over, some go under the trees to relieve themselves.”
She said numerous reports to the municipality had fallen on deaf ears.
“This is causing a bad smell. Something should be done about the condition of toilets here as it is getting out of hand.
“The place has been like this since December and seemingly it will continue being like this for some time,” she said.
In Mdantsane, some public toilets were closed on Wednesday.
Street vendor Nomboniso Zenzile called on the municipality for urgent intervention.
“We have a problem here with the water taps as well – there are people who come and steal them at night.
“The toilets are also a nightmare, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t and we have gotten used to it,” she said.
“We used to send our complaints to the municipality and they would send people to come and fix these toilets immediately.”
She said the situation had a negative impact on her food business.
“My [shipping] container is situated right next to the blocked toilets.
“Some of my customers do not want to eat here anymore. The smell is unbearable and I am losing out on business.
“It would be better if they just closed the toilets completely than to have them filthy right in front of my business,” she said.
The public toilets at the East London CBD were closed on Wednesday afternoon, while those in King William’s Town were in good working condition.
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said all the toilets in Highway were in working order.
“Frequently they need some minor repairs and plumbing work . . .”
Comment on the CBD toilets, Ngwenya said were in working condition “as at the moment”.
“As for the ones at Ebuhlanti, which are in high demand, we deal with vandalism and we will dispatch officials to inspect [them].”..

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