N1.6bn Waterworks Scam: Stakeholders Ask Gov Sanwo-olu To Probe Into Contracts

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  • React To The New Diplomat’s Investigation…
  • Insist Lagosians Have Human Rights To Clean Water

Few days after The New Diplomat published an investigation, revealing scam around the N1.6bn water rehabilitation contracts awarded by the Lagos Water Corporation in 2017 and 2018, stakeholders in the water sector in Nigeria have asked the Lagos state government to probe into all loans and funds spent in the last twelve years with the aim to improve water system and infrastructures in the state.

In a communique issued and signed by several NGOs and labour union at the end of the stakeholders dialogue on Lagos water organised by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, stakeholders asked the Lagos state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu to initiate a “probe of all loans and funding for the existing water system and infrastructure in Lagos State throughout the tenures of the Governors Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode, including the N1.6 billion made available to the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) in 2017 for rehabilitation of mini and micro waterworks across the state.”

The stakeholders who were worried that massive corruption had carried on for years in the water sector in the country, also called on the Lagos government to take decisive steps to stop the degeneration of water infrastructures in the state by looking into the rehabilitation contract scam as revealed by The New Diplomat’s investigation.

Stakeholders at the dialogue meeting on Lagos Water Crisis, Tuesday in Lagos.

“Reports of massive corruption in the water sector across the states and at the national level are alarming and are yet to be probed.

“It is observed that the funding gap in the water sector is due to the vested interests and lack of political will, not a lack of resources. For example, Lagos State, which is believed to generate nearly 60 billion naira monthly and claims to not have sufficient funds to improve the state water system under the Mr. Akinwunmi Amobode administration in 2017 allocated N1.6 billion for rehabilitation its 48 mini and micro waterworks. Unfortunately, an investigative report published last week in The New Diplomat Newspaper found out the funds were largely diverted to private pockets because the contract award and implementation did not follow due process.

“In decision-making in relation to water, local communities are not consulted and their input not sought. Women’s voices and the voices of other vulnerable groups are subjugated and not accorded priority. They are equally at the receiving end of water shortages and inaccessibility.

“Budgetary allocation to the water sector is still abysmally low and does not reflect the much-talked about commitment of the government to address the challenges to access,” the communique read.

Recall, this newspaper had revealed circumstance and details that led to the continuous abject water scarcity in Lagos, despite the many waterworks rehabilitation contracts awarded in the past to improve water infrastructures.

In 2017, the Lagos Water Corporation awarded a rehabilitation contract to Idmon Engineering and Construction Company to carry out repairs on the three major waterworks in Adiyan, Iju and Isashi in Lagos. The corporation got N800 million loan from the French Development Bank facilitated by the Lagos state government to embark on the project.

Also, in 2018, N792 million grant was released by the Lagos State government for the rehabilitation of 48 mini and micro waterworks in Lagos. Investigation revealed that Hakkam – B and Associates Limited and Hyses – Nex company Limited were among the nine companies who got the contract.

Following months of investigation, findings showed that four of the companies that got the contract award have not been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and are without the capacity to deliver on such projects, something that contradicted several sections as stated in the Lagos State Public Procurement Act 2011.

Across all the major and mini waterworks waterworks, investigation revealed that the post-rehabilitation target set before the commencement of the repair works had not been met till date, but instead water production has been witnessing a downward trend. This has been making 22 million Lagos residents to suffer daily from sundry problems associated with the challenge of acute water shortage.

Meanwhile, the keynote speaker at the stakeholders’ dialogue on Lagos water, Dr. Hussaini Abdu, Country Director of Plan International Nigeria, while speaking on ‘The Lagos Water Crisis and the Imperative for Sustainable Solutions’ dwelt on the human right to water which he said, entitles everyone without discrimination to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

According to him, this covers water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene.

Abdu explained that during much of the 1990s, water utilities worldwide experienced a wave of privatization, adding that Lagos state with the support of the World Bank is one of the first states to have experimented with the idea barely a few years after Nigeria adopted the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) under the Badamasi Babangida military junta.

He concluded that privatisation has largely failed across the globe and that citizens must be part of the solutions since International Financial Institutions have never addressed municipal challenges.

“Urban governance and policy must be people driven. When people are part of policy making process, they own the policies, protect and sustain these policies. When policies are imposed on them, they reject and undermine them” he said.

The gathering also examined the status of access to water in Lagos state, the role of the World Bank and multinational corporations in failed water projects, the myth that the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model represents, the rights-based approach to sustainable management of water resources and how to promote affordable public access to water in Lagos.

The stakeholders want “The new administration of Dr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to accede to the demands of the Our Water Our Right movement that it jettison privatization, including successive administrations PPP addiction, and build the political will to fulfill the human right to water through the public sector.”

Alongside ERA/FoEN, the Co-organisers of the dialogue include: Corporate Accountability, Public Services International (PSI), Transnational Institute, and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and Joint Action Front among others.

Despite N1.6bn Waterworks Rehabilitation Project, Lagosians Groan in Abject Water Scarcity

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