No toilets, water at new housing site

Savanna City resident Sibongile Tshilatshila hustling for a bucket of water from plumbing pipes.
Savanna City resident Sibongile Tshilatshila hustling for a bucket of water from plumbing pipes.

Residents of a new government housing project in Walkerville, south of Johannesburg, have been without water for over a month.

New homeowners in Savanna City said a strike by subcontractors on the project, who have not been paid, has disrupted water supply to the housing project.

The sub-contractors have blocked roads leading to the multibillion-rand project since last week, demanding R1.1m payment from Dryden Construction, a company which has filed for liquidation.

The Gauteng department of human settlements, which planned to connect hundreds of houses to water and a sewerage system, must now find an urgent solution to the service delivery deadlock.

Residents who moved into the new homes in December have been left frustrated by the stalemate.

Jacob Noruka, 73, who was allocated a two-bedroom house in the new development said having no water, toilets and electricity was frustrating.

"I took the opportunity to get into the house because it is once-in-a-lifetime chance. But life is tough here. I have no water, no electricity and not even a toilet that I can use. I literally have to go to the bush to relieve myself. It is really sad," he said.

The pipe linking Noruka's home to the sewage line was left open right in his yard and it is emitting a bad smell.

His bathroom has no pipes, so just the bathtub, a basin and toilet seat are in place. Noruka is too weak to fetch water as he is suffering from a lung infection. He relies on the goodness of his neighbours.

One of his neighbours, Sibongile Tshilatshila, has been helping him get water.

"When we were allocated houses, the department promised to connect us on January 7 and we are still waiting," Tshilatshila said.

Protests erupted last week in Savanna City as 36 subcontractors assigned to build 500 houses were not paid.

The Gauteng department of human settlements has been allocating homes to those who qualify long before the services were connected. This was to prevent other people from invading the homes, according to the department.

Departmental spokesperson Tahir Sema said 253 people were allocated houses in December and the lack of water and other services was communicated to them.

"The protestors are blocking access to the sites so those connections cannot start. A meeting is set for Tuesday (yesterday) between the developer, the liquidator and the contractor," Sema said.

He said 44 houses have already been invaded, something the department is trying to prevent through its "pre-allocation" strategy.

Savanna City is Gauteng's biggest housing project; it is expected to yield 18,000 units which include fully and partially subsidised houses, and bonded assets.

" It is expected to cost about R24bn."