In the build-up to last year’s election on 3 August, the then DA Mayoral Candidate, Athol Trollip, and now the Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor, was very vocal about his determination to rid this Metro of bucket toilets. He involved the Human Rights Commission to underscore his revulsion at the indignity of these toilets, the use of which was at that stage imposed on approximately 16000 Metro residents.
It is now over a year since the election, and Nelson Mandela Bay has been hard at work to ensure that every last bucket will disappear from our landscape by the end of December this year. (An election promise cannot be left at the ballot box. It is a commitment made out of caring and determination to govern well and deliver services for all. We are very serious about seeing it through.)
Already, we have removed more than 4000 buckets, mostly through the relocation of residents to their homes or the sites of their future homes. In both scenarios, full flush toilets have been provided.
For those communities that will not be relocated or housed soon, the wait for housing must be a dignified one.
Numerous sanitation options were proposed to residents through rigorous public participation processes. It was decided that a communal sanitation solution would be rolled out for those still waiting for homes.
The first of these successfully trialed facilities will be launched soon. Each will feature flush toilets, showers and wash basins. Each will be well lit, for safety, and well managed, by community members, to ensure hygienic conditions and, importantly, jobs.
Sadly, some Ward Councillors have chosen to mobilise their communities to demand a number of other services. This use of the promised provision of toilets, instead of buckets, as a bargaining tool has delayed the upgrading of their sanitation services and personal dignity. Some have demanded houses before any toilets are provided, while others have demanded electricity. Neither demand is unjustified: it is simply part of a different process, with a different plan and a different budget.
We cannot be deterred, but have been slightly delayed by these pockets of community resistance.
We will still remove every bucket by the end of December. Where there has been delays, the roll-out of communal sanitation has been scheduled for early 2018, with the immediate installation of chemical toilets as an interim measure.