Four bucket toilets for 2000 Twaloloka shack dwellers

WALVIS BAY - Residents of the Twaloloka informal settlement in Walvis Bay are unhappy that they have to share four bucket mobile toilets among 2000 residents in the area. Despite its health risks and bad odour in the windy area, the Walvis Bay municipality resorted to this relic of the colonial era that was designed for people of colour as part of the segregation system.

The bucket system toilets were availed by the Walvis Bay municipality on Friday to minimise the risks of Hepatitis E, following an outbreak at the town about two weeks ago.

The municipality indicated five laboratory confirmed cases have been reported at Walvis Bay since the outbreak of Hepatitis E in Windhoek in 2017.

Erongo in total had 177 confirmed cases, all of which have been successfully treated.

Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis E virus (HEV). The disease is serious, especially for pregnant women and those with a low immune system. This virus is usually spread via the faecal-oral route and can be found in contaminated drinking water, and food including fruits, vegetables and meat.

Hence residents are of the opinion the bucket system toilets will increase the spread of Hepatitis E, at the settlement already vulnerable to diseases such as tuberculosis due to poor ventilation and lack of proper sanitation.

Public Relations Manager of the Walvis Bay municipality Kevin Adams said they did all in their power to prevent the further spread of any disease.

He also explained they are in contact with the Twaloloka residents and are currently looking at more sustainable solutions.

However, apart from the contracted cleaning company, each resident must make sure that they also clean after using the facilities, he said.

According to Stacy Babello, a resident in the area, the settlement already had six cases of which three were recently detected.

This bucket system will only make it worse instead of curbing it as they cannot flush and put us at greater risk to transmit illnesses, she explained.

Prior to bucket system toilets, residents relieved themselves in a manhole they dug in the ground.

Another resident, Nehale LyaMpingana Nehale also said this was a health and safety risk as they had small children among them.

We requested assistance from council for better facilities while they are working on the affordable housing issue that also remains just a pipe dream. Cleary this is not what we expected as the area is already serviced and they could have put up proper temporary, dignified facilities for us, Nehale said.

The rental company told New Era the buckets will be cleaned six days a week and its rental cost will be paid by Walvis Bay municipal council.

Most residents ended up living in the open area (Twaloloka) after being evicted from their shacks due to non-payment of rents due to joblessness, while others said they moved to the area as their former landlords constructed flats that they (residents) could no longer afford.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia