GRAAFF-REINET NEWS - "I pray for these people because I do not know what it is to live like this," said Sias Smith, chairperson of the Graaff-Reinet Action Committee, at oversight of Riemvasmaak and Blikkiesdorp, adjoining informal settlements in Graaff-Reinet, on 8 October.
The poor living conditions in these areas were previously reported on, and include limited access to water, community toilets that are broken, and illegal dumping.
The broken toilets across the informal settlements have since been fixed, but three of the eight stalls do not have doors. "Stalls previously had doors, but were removed by transgressors," said Acting Municipal Spokesperson, Edwardine Abader.
"According to her, new doors have been included in the Infrastructure Services Directorate, but residents are reminded to please take care of the assets provided to them.
Hannah Makoba, who has lived in Blikkiesdorp for ten years, said that she and the four other members of her household do not make use of the public toilets, but instead use buckets, which she later empties.
As for running water, all three water tanks in Riemvasmaak are empty, and locals fetch water with buckets either from a nearby water pipe or from taps next to the toilet stalls. Abader said that community members can inform their ward councillor if they require the tanks to be filled, but in case of water outages or shortages, water is carted to the area by the municipality.
Illegal dumping remains an issue. Abader said that the municipality cleaned illegal hotspots across town in April, of which Riemvasmaak was also included, but the state of refuse remains what it was before.
"The municipality will provide residents with black bags monthly, which will be collected by our refuse team every Monday and Wednesday," said Abader. She added a waste management campaign is scheduled to commence on 16 October. Smith also called upon residents to not litter.
"We must take care of our areas, we are not pigs."
Smith said his hope for the community is that residents will receive serviced homes with running water, electricity and refuse removal. Abader said that, for this to happen, the area must first be upgraded to an established area through the Department of Human Settlements. "The municipality prioritises and plans to install the necessary infrastructure once [this process] is finalised," she explained.
Michelle Erasmus, Chairperson of the Graaff-Reinet Ratepayers' and Residents' Association, said visiting the informal settlements was an eye-opener. "It's important to be involved in all our communities, and to hold the municipality accountable on all locals' living conditions," she said.
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