450 families, one water tap in Cape Town informal settlement

City promises to inspect

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Teddy Ndilele at the only working tap in Nyakathisa informal settlement in Cape Town. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

  • More than 400 families share a single working water tap in Nyakathisa informal settlement in Cape Town, according to the community leader.
  • Mthetheleli Mhleli, the community leader, says the four other taps are not working and there has been no rubbish collection since January.
  • The City of Cape Town says a team will inspect the settlement, which is on private land, to count the households and see where new taps can be installed.

Hundreds of families in Nyakathisa informal settlement in Macassar in Cape Town have access to just one water tap. There are four other taps but none of them are working.

There are over 450 families in the informal settlement of approximately 2,000 people including children, according to community leader Mthetheleli Mhleli. Residents have to queue for hours to fill their water bottles and buckets. Sometimes the water is just a trickle.

Mhleli says this has been the case for more than two years and complaints to the City of Cape Town have fallen on deaf ears.

He said rubbish had not been collected since the end of January, when workers employed by a company contracted to the City had downed tools because they had not been paid.

Resident Nwabiso Ntiliziyo said families in the settlement felt neglected. She said she sometimes waited three hours in the queue at the single tap, and there were not enough toilets for the settlement. “We are affected deeply,” said Ntiliziyo.

“There is uncollected rubbish everywhere,” said Teddy Ndilele, another resident. “There are people like myself, who have babies who use nappies and those nappies are scattered around this area so you can imagine the stink.”

“What we do now is burn the rubbish. Children have diseases because of the dirt around here. We would be happy if we could have people dedicated to clean our area because we feel ignored,” said Ndilele.

Following questions sent on Friday 12 April, Zahid Badroodien, the City’s Mayco Member for Water and Sanitation, told GroundUp the Water and Sanitation Directorate’s Informal Settlements Basic Services team visited the area on Tuesday 16 April to inspect.

Badroodien said there were six ecogators (water taps) in the settlement but confirmed that “four of these are unfortunately not working”. GroundUp counted only five taps, not six.

“Eco Gators are standpipes designed to conserve water, installed during the drought as a pilot,” said Badroodien. “They feature a push-button mechanism with automatic shutoff to minimise wastage. However, operational challenges, such as slow water flow due to pressure issues, led to community dissatisfaction.”

“Vandalism ensued as individuals attempted to bypass the mechanism, causing damage and necessitating the removal of the taps.” He said the City was replacing the ecogators with normal standpipes.

He encouraged people to report problems with water and sanitation. “In general the City repairs any defects that have been reported through the reporting channels and if not, then it is likely unaware of such complaints.”

Badroodien said the directorate would visit the area and count the households to update the number of taps needed and see where taps could be installed, as the settlement is on private land.

He said generally one tap was provided for 25 households. The settlement had started with 130 households in 2016 but had grown rapidly in 2020, so a new assessment of the area was necessary, he said.

TOPICS:  Local government Sanitation Water

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