Sewage, toilets cause a stink at Kosovo

“We live in a pigsty. The City dumped us and does not care about us. This area stinks (and) we don’t know what fresh air is.”

These are the words of frustrated mother of four, Nosisa Ncapayi, who has been living in A Section of Kosovo informal settlement for more than five years.

Kosovo residents are set to benefit from the R1.5 billion Southern Corridor housing development for which land has been identified in New Woodlands (“Horns lock over housing”, Plainsman, July 19).

Ms Ncapayi’s concerns echo those of many other residents of the informal settlement who battle, among others, flooding in winter and fires in summer, along with the other challenges that come with living on a wetland.

“We don’t have proper toilets; we are using temporary toilets. Our flushing toilets are not functioning and instead of the City fixing them, they gave us Mshengu toilets,” Ms Ncapayi added, referring to the portable chemical toilets in the area.

She reckons there are more than 200 flushing toilets in the whole of Kosovo which were not functioning.

“They ended up vandalised by criminals because they are not working. It’s more than a decade now with no flushing toilets. Even our sewage pump station is not working and the sewage is flowing in the streets,” she said.

Thandile Jakeni, 34, has young children, whose health she is concerned about.

“My twins are a month old and I’m concerned about the stench coming in the house. We are always closing the door and what’s worse, is that my shack is next to the drain,” she said.

Mrs Jakeni said her oldest child, who is nine years old, developed a rash which she believes is linked to their living conditions.

“I wish we can move out of here and get proper houses. There is little development here. Even facilities that we currently have, the City fails to maintain,” she said.

Mzwandile Mawonga, 38, from C Section said in addition to the appalling living conditions, “in Kosovo there are high unemployment and crime rates”.

“People get robbed every day and housebreaking is escalating. We want proper houses,” he said.

He concurred with other residents who believe their children are getting sick because of their living conditions.

“My child is staying with my sister in Site C, Khayelitsha, because of the situation here. Many children are suffering TB, rash, diarrhoea and others have ring worms. Our families can’t even visit us because of the bad smell,” said Mr Mawonga.

Community leader Khanyiso Jali agreed that crime was escalating in the area. “The criminals kick in our doors and take our televisions. About three houses had their televisions stolen in a period of four months,” he said.

However, he said, the establishment of a neighbourhood watch on weekends had helped curb crime.

“We need more police visibility – day and night. We don’t want to see police when they come to arrest a person and (then they) vanish again,” said Mr Jali. He also stressed that they needed to relocate to proper houses.

“We don’t want to be relocated to a plot. We want proper houses. Here in winter we have flooding and in summer we get fire,” said Mr Jali.

He added that illegal dumping was the main cause of filthiness in the area.

Siphiwo Nqamnduku, councillor for Ward 88, which includes Philippi Park, Philippi (west of Stock Road, south of Sheffield Road and including Phola Park), and parts of Philippi informal settlement, dismissed the allegations that he never visited the area. “I was there at a public meeting last week regarding the relocating of some residents to New Woodlands (See story on page 11). We even set up a steering committee to look after the process,” he said.

Mr Nqamnduku said when he became a ward councillor the Mshengu toilets were already in place.

“I can’t tell you what is the problem with the sewage pump station, but I have requested the City to fence it to prevent children playing there. And also the City vowed to remove the flushing toilets which are not working,” he said.

The City’s mayoral committee member for area south, Eddie Andrews, said Kosovo informal settlement was situated on a wetland area and as such, a conventional gravity fed sewer system was not an option. “In an attempt to provide full flush toilets, the City experimented with new technology – a vacuum sewer system.

“The system worked well initially but started malfunctioning as some residents disposed of inappropriate objects into the system,” he explained.

He said they tried to educate residents to prevent this, but the system failed “due to the abuse and had to be removed”.

Mr Andrews said 100-litre container toilets were provided as replacement.