- Claims Lagos May Criminalize Sourcing of Water From Borehole Soon
- As The New Diplomat’s Investigation Awaits Sanwo-olu’s Probe Action
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu has been asked to discontinue the water privatisation plan embarked upon by the previous administration and uphold the human right to water as an obligation of the government to its people.
The call which came from ‘Our Water, Our Right Coalition’, followed a report published by the Global Water Intelligence (GWI) magazine which revealed that despite the hues and cries which had lasted for many years to stop water privatisation in Lagos, plans are at their advance stages to privatize the Adiyan II and Igbonla waterworks.
This comes as other major waterworks in operation in the state are being rounded up for privatisation by 2022.
“It’s important to make it explicitly clear that if the two privatization contracts are signed, it will mean corporate grab and control of one-third of Lagos water by the year 2022,” Mr. Philip Jakpor, Head, Media and Campaigns, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) leading the coalition told journalists, Wednesday. “By contractual agreements, these corporations would control our water for two decades or more.”
Jakpor also revealed that as part of the Strategic Business Plan to be released soon by the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) for 2019 — 2024 “there are plans to cut non-revenue water by half by 2023.” He explained that the plan may lead to the criminalization of Lagosians who source water from privately dug boreholes and wells.
According to him, of more concerns are the dirty records of the companies that are ramping up on contractual agreements with the Lagos government. The GWI had reported that for the Igbonla privatization, the project managers are a consortium of Brio Resources and Spanish Corporation which is currently under investigation by the Spanish government and the European Union for an international corruption scandal.
More suspicions were also raised as the report noted that the preferred bidder for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement of the 70 million gallon/day Adiyan II contract had been selected and is awaiting approval by the Lagos government, yet the bidder has not been publicly announced, putting question mark on the entire bidding process for lack of transparency.
It would be recalled that The New Diplomat’s investigation published late September had exposed the scandal surrounding the N1.6 billion waterworks rehabilitation contracts awarded in the shadows by the LWC between 2017 and 2018.
The investigation which lasted for months revealed that there’s been little or nothing to show for the rehabilitation contracts awarded to 10 companies as production capacity has dropped to a record low in some of the waterworks. And many others remain shut till date without producing a drizzle of water despite claims by the LWC and companies that the rehabilitation had been completed.
Less than two weeks after the publication, the ‘Our Water, Our Right Coalition’ issued a communique to Governor Sanwo-olu asking him to probe into the contracts as awarded. However, till date the Lagos state government is yet to initiate any probe on the contract sham in spite of the brewing Lagos water crisis.
Speaking on the repackaged privatisation plan after the backlash it drew under the Ambode’s administration, the General Secretary, Nigerian Labour Congress, Lagos state, Comrade Biodun Bakare noted that “the privitization of Lagos water has come in different kinds of polished words recently to hoodwink members of the public” to tag along.
“Most of the companies have corruption cases hanging on them. The approach of the government is worrisome because everything is being done in the secret.” Bakare said.
Meanwhile, the coalition comprised of several Civil Society Organisations and labour union in a joint demand asked Lagos government to make full disclosure of all its discussions and activities with the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank regarding Lagos water.
Other demands include to “Halt PPP/Privatization of Lagos water infrastructures to transnational corporations like Veolia, Metito and Abengoa.
“Increased budgetary allocation to the water sector; that the Lagos government builds the political will to prioritize water for the people, through a comprehensive plan that invests public funds in the water infrastructures.”
The Deputy Director, Joint Action Front, Mr. Achike Chude worries that “the Bretton Woods institutions are trying on a daily basis to extend their privatization model to Africa and the international corporations are experimenting an agenda.”
While asking the Lagos government to shelve the privatisation plan, Chude said “citizens have a right to safe drinkable water. Privatisation has never worked in Nigeria and it can’t work now. It’s about the elites conniving with foreign organisations to control resources belonging to millions of people.”