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NLC, ERA caution Lagos against privatisation of water

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Lagos Water Corporation

Lagos Water Corporation

Frontline civil society group, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the Lagos State government to build a political will to prioritize water supply without jeopardising public interest.

The group argued that what is needed is a comprehensive plan that invests in the water infrastructure necessary to provide universal water access, which will create jobs, improve public health and invigorate the Lagos economy.

Speaking at the public presentation of a book titled, ‘Lagos Water Crisis: Alternative roadmap for Water sector’, recently in Lagos ,

Deputy Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the privatisation of water could lead to job losses, high tariffs and the possibility of social unrest if it is forced on the people.

Oluwafemi said the water crisis in Lagos is further compounded by the approach and strategies that is adopted by the Lagos Government, saying the Lagos State Water Supply Master Plan only promotes one false option and one roadmap only – privatisation/public private partnership (PPP).

According to him, PPP is a model that has failed woefully in several cities across the world, but still receiving major promotion by the World Bank and other financial institution especially in the developing countries.

“Communities that have gone down that path, are struggling to reverse the course, and hundreds have abandoned PPPs after trying them, they sometimes generate profit, but low-income people can’t drink profit, he said.

He noted that the group’s campaign against water privatisation is hinged on well-documented concerns that privatisation or PPPs in the water sector would lead to violations of human right to water and deny citizens universal access to safe drinking water.

“There also concerns that the whole privatisation process including an
Advisory Agreement with the World Bank was conducted in secret, without ensuring active, free and meaningful citizens’ participation.

There is also the worry about job losses, high tariffs and the possibility of social unrest if water privatisation is forced on the people.

“We have however, made it clear that we will assist the government in developing real solutions that truly address people’s access to water from the prism of human rights. We have also said that those solutions cannot be found in corporate management of public goods, but in collective investment in water infrastructure and democratic decision-making that priorities the human right to water above profits, he explained.

He submitted that stakeholders have consistently voiced their opposition to PPPs because they failed elsewhere and will fail here.

Meanwhile, the book launch was aimed at creating alternative roadmap to the Lagos Water Strategy, which promotes water privatization.

The book reviews the impact and reasons for the failure of the current water system, and provides models from around the world for adaptation to the Lagos context.

A representative of the Public Services International, Sanni Dada, said the privatisation of water in the state is not viable practicable and possible.

In his remarks, Chairman, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Lagos chapter, Idowu Adelakun said the union has been in the forefront agitating for the use of pure and safe water, stating that if water is privatised, it would spread like wild fire to other countries across the world.

He said: “We have a listening hear in the state am sure the government is trying to forget the issue of privatisation in Lagos.”

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