By Marianne Nghidengwa
OVER 400 households of the Twahangana community in Katutura’s Greenwell Matongo have been left without ablution facilities after a community toilet they had been using for several years was recently demolished.
The toilet was constructed on an erven that the owner about four days ago reclaimed leaving a majority of the community including pregnant women and children to either relive themselves in plastic bags that are discarded in garbage bins or in the open. The community had also been using the toilet to discard dirty water that is now thrown on the streets where children play, leaving a filthy sight and terrible smell in unhygienic circumstances.
To make matters worse, a community tap was constructed next to the toilet despite its unhygienic conditions over the years risking disease-causing germs to live and breed. However, City of Windhoek’s corporate communications manager, Joshua Amukugo said that while the council sympathises with those affected, putting up new toilets and repairing others is a vicious cycle because residents vandalise them.
“We continue to try our level best to address the issue of ablution facilities in informal settlements but the mindset of residents in those areas is something else. We put up toilets and fix others but come tomorrow we are back to square one because people vandalise the toilets while some just don’t use them properly to the dissatisfaction of those living in close proximity of the toilets. We also came up with arrangements to task certain individuals with toilet keys so that they lock and unlock the toilets but people got angry. It has not been easy but at the same time we are not giving up.”
For the community though, the situation is unacceptable especially after years of fighting for improved living conditions and the provision of basic municipal services such as water and electricity for each household when collectively they bought the piece of land from council nearly 17 years ago. “We are tired of living in such dirty conditions. It is not healthy. We still do not have water in our homes after so many years of independence and voting hoping for change. This is not the way things are supposed to be. Perhaps one should also note that this community only had four toilets with taps next to them, but they have not been functional for a very long time. Imagine collecting water from a tap that is located right next to blocked toilets for years? This is the water we drink, cook our meals with and use for other household chores.”
Another resident said, “Our situation right now is unimaginable and although we talked to our councillors, nothing ever came from it. It’s difficult living like animals relieving ourselves in the open or in plastic bags on a daily basis. It’s unhygienic and dangerous especially for the children who play on the streets. It is a matter we have stressed so many times over the last 15 years or so yet we find ourselves in this situation.”
Contacted for comment, Samora Machel’s constituency councillor, Fanuel Shivute said that he has been engaging the Twahangana community since he came into office last year to better understand their plight.
“I am aware of the many problems that community faces including toilets and water. I am busy with them and recently met with their committee to iron out some of these issues. I am yet to meet the entire community so that I hear from them too before I approach the City of Windhoek. It is an old community that has been faced with so many problems and a lack or services,” Shivute said.
When Confidente visited three communities in the constituency recently, residents there face similar problems, living in deplorable conditions without basic amenities. They said that they continue to wait in vain for leaders to address their plight. The communities are also mostly plagued by hordes of unemployed people who often resort to abusing alcohol while others try to make ends meet by selling various products such as fruits and cooked meat outside their shacks.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015