Impoverished areas around the district of Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, have existed on the doorstep of a major economic hub, without any trickle down of the benefits of South Africa’s macro-economic stability.
Residents of areas like Orange Farm and Evaton have for years suffered without basic services such as electricity and sanitation.
Now, nearly 10 years after democracy, sanitation services are finally being rolled out to residents in these areas.
In Evaton, where residents have had to endure the sewage bucket system for decades, a total of 126 prefabricated toilet structures connected to the waterborne sewer network and 41 prefabricated ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines have been installed over the past three weeks.
VIPs have been used where no sewer pipes are present close to the stand.
The Evaton project cost about R1,3-million (about $187 485). For residents like Sophie Motaung, no longer having to use the often smelly, unventilated and unhygienic makeshift bucket system latrines, is priceless.
Motaung (53) was born in Evaton and has lived there her entire life. She is unemployed and would not have had the means to pay for a connection to the waterborne sewer network herself.
She said the newly installed toilet outside her home has made a remarkable difference to her life.
“There’s a huge difference in the [hygienic] issues. Also, with the old system, when it used to get full and if you had nobody around to help you, you could not move the structure. [The new toilet] makes daily life easier,” she said.
Her words were echoed by a group of residents nearby. They too use the toilet outside Motaung’s home.
Local council project manager Moses Maboya said that on average, between 15 and 18 people shared a toilet.
“However, a much larger challenge must now be addressed. That is the elimination of approximately 3 400 pit latrines,” he said.
Many of the pit latrines have been erected by stand owners renting out shacks in their backyards.
Tshediso Motlala, a water and sanitation project manager at the department of local government, told IRIN that “unemployment in these areas is high, the rentals [from shacks] is sometimes the stand owners only source of income”.
The combined effect of new connections due to the installation of sanitation services in existing areas such as Evaton, as well as the low-cost housing roll-out by the Gauteng provincial government, has put added pressure on the Sebokeng Water Care Works.
“There’s a new housing project in Orange Farm so they had to extend the plant so that it can cope with the extra connections. You can’t just roll-out housing without services,” explained Motlala.
The plant services a geographical area some 15km wide by 30km long.
The department was aware of the high levels of unemployment in the areas around the Sebokeng Water Care Works. Consequently, they included job creation and community upliftment aspects to the expansion programme for the plant.
Johan Nel, a consultant overseeing the project, said funding of R5,5-million (about $793 204) had been allocated for training and community upliftment during the plant expansion.
“Some of the initiatives are that contractors draw unskilled labour from the communities. The Sebokeng Training Centre equips them with skills like plastering and bricklaying etc. The use of local sub-contractor’s [is also prescribed]. As well as that 40% of contractor’s expenditure must be spent in the [Sebokeng] region,” he said.
Motlala added that “wherever possible” contractor’s had to source materials for the plant expansion within the Sebokeng area.
“With regard to education, we have a bursary scheme which is funded by contractor’s and consultants [working on the plant’s expansion]. Five percent of contractor’s total fee — not just profits — and one percent of consultants total fee has to be paid toward the bursary scheme,” Motlala said.
This was separate from the R5,5-million set aside for training for people employed at the plant.
“The entire training is certified, the aim is to assist people to stand on their own once the project is done,” he added. – Irin