SOME 700 toilets built in Dutywa 18 months ago for a multi-million rand housing development that barely got off the ground are literally falling over and into pieces.
Construction of the concrete toilets started in March 2010, however work stalled when a contractor walked off site amid accusations of poor workmanship.
During a visit to the Govan Mbeki township, the Daily Dispatch found the shoddilybuilt toilets in various stages of collapse.
Many had sunken into the ground while others had fallen over and were lying on their sides.
The toilets had also been vandalised and their metal doors and toilet seats were missing. Even the communal taps had been vandalised while the gravel roads were overgrown with grass.
Last week, many residents from mainly informal settlements in the area expressed disgust at the failure by government to provide them with decent shelter.
One beneficiary, Nomawethu Kolo, 46, said it was shocking that only shoddily-built toilets were constructed.
“I had looked with great interest and hope when I saw the toilets being erected and roads constructed, but that hope was dashed when the toilets filled the field and no houses have been built,” said Kolo.
Resident Siyolise Ketabahle said it was appalling that taxpayers’ money had been wasted.
“Large amounts of taxpayers’ money was invested in this housing project, which is now going down the drain. The toilets will now have to be redone,” Ketabahle said.
DA MPL Veliswa Mvenya, whose constituency includes Dutywa, said Govan Mbeki, the ANC stalwart after whom the township is named, would have been shocked to see the situation there.
“The frustration for shack dwellers to see the toilets being vandalised and their hope for proper housing being dashed by empty promises is dehumanising,” Mvenya said.
Mvenya has since written both local government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane and human settlement MEC Helen August-Sauls to ask what had happened to funding for the project.
“I call on the MEC to do a full investigation into this failed housing project and to make examples of those involved by ensuring that they are held accountable,” she said.
Olga Mfecane, mayor for Mbhashe municipality, which includes Dutywa, said she had been shocked to find the state of the project when she recently visited.
“The toilets are not up to standard and are falling apart. There was poor workmanship. “It is sad that houses are not yet built,” said Mfecane.
Human settlement department spokesman Mxolisi Spondo said the housing project, including toilets, had been an initiative of the Mbhashe municipality and Amathole district municipality (ADM).
ADM municipal manager, Vuyo Mlokoti said his municipality’s role was to facilitate the successful completion of the 754 toilets, water and roads in the project but had fired the contractor.
“Due to poor performance, poor quality and slow construction pace by the contractor, the ADM had no choice but to terminate the services of the contractor,” Mlokoti said.
He said the ADM had an meeting with the human settlement department on September 15 to discuss challenges on housing projects, including Dutywa Extension 8.
It was agreed that ADM would prepare a status report and that a task team comprising of senior officials from the human settlement department and ADM make recommendations for the future. — firstname.lastname@example.org