Cowdray Park residents face health risks from overflowing blair toilets

Residents in Ward 6 of Cowdray Park have raised health concerns over overflowing blair toilets.

These concerns come amidst a nationwide battle to contain a cholera outbreak.

Ward 6 encompasses the new residential areas, including Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, a government housing scheme handed over to the city council in 2012.

However, the area lacked proper sanitation facilities before residents were resettled, and it currently suffers from inadequate sewer and water reticulation.

CITE spoke to Kholwani Mtuliki, a member of the Ward Development Committee, who expressed his worry about the residents’ health and well-being due to the poor sewage system.

“We’ve been living here since around 2013 without sewer connections in our homes,” Mtuliki explained. “We’ve been relying on Blair toilets, which are now full. We’ve contacted the city council on multiple occasions to request that their machinery come and empty them, but to no avail.”

Mtuliki highlighted the worsening situation during rainfall when rising water levels cause the waste in the Blair toilets to overflow.

“The overflowing toilets pose a serious health hazard to the community,” he said. “The situation has been particularly bad these past few days due to the rain. We have small children in our households. How can they be expected to use overflowing toilets safely, especially when their parents are not around? Most of our homes also lack electricity, making it difficult to use the toilets safely in the evenings.”

Mtuliki pointed out that residents previously had the option of using nearby bushes as an alternative. However, increased construction has eliminated this option.

“In some cases, like funerals or weddings, affected residents have to resort to asking neighbours to allow people to use their toilets,” he added.

Mtuliki added that safety concerns were associated with the outdoor toilets, particularly at night, given the high crime rates in Ward 6.

“There are times when nature calls late at night,” he said. “Our area is not very safe, and people risk being attacked with no help available. We also have young girls and women who are vulnerable to assault or rape, especially if they are using the outdoor toilets alone, even during the day. Blair toilets simply aren’t safe for us.”

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