Organisation urges Lagos to declare stance on Water

Ugonma Cokey,Lagos

A non–governmental Organisation, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, (ERA/FoEN)is asking the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode to publicly declare his stance on a controversial Public Private Partnership (PPP) on water.

The demand by the group follows a statement by the World Bank that it has withdrawn support for a PPP in Lagos and Nigeria.

According to the Bank, “the PPP for the operation of the Lagos treatment works is not going to be possible under this project….it is not the intention of this project to continue with it anymore.”

This reversal came after a year of protests from civil society and labor groups, including a summit in Lagos last August to chart the course for the city’s public water management.

ERA/FoEN had before its water summit last year organized a rally which drew huge civil society and labour participation in anticipation that the state government will come public with a clear action-plan that will involve the people in democratic decision taking in the water sector.

Speaking at a Press briefing in Lagos, the Deputy Director of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi called on the Lagos State government to guarantee the protection of the rights of Lagosians to water by ensuring full disclosure of the PPP with the World Bank, and a halt to the project.

Oluwafemi says the double-speak of the World Bank has already shown there is something being hidden from everyone.

He called on governor Ambode to halt the secret concessions of Lagos water infrastructure and provide necessary financial and other resources needed to run existing water infrastructure in the state, and to come out with a master plan of incremental overhaul of the entire water infrastructure in the state.

The Deputy Director says ERA/FoEN cannot stop demanding that the rights of Lagos citizens to a free gift of nature must not be subject to the dictates of privatisers whose only interest is profit.

Failed Model of PPP

Oluwafemi says the Lagos government is toying with a failed model of PPP that the World Bank private arm -International Finance Corporation (IFC) advised it to embark upon even with documented failures in Manila and Nagpur, in the Philippines and India respectively.

The Organisation believes that Lagos may become the emblem of corporate water grab promoted by the World Bank through the IFC.

It says though Lagos has since 1979 obtained loans from several institutions and governments, the secrecy surrounding the planned privatisation of water necessitated an alarm it raised early October that the state government may have appointed the IFC to design a PPP water privatization scheme.

ERA/FoEN says its aversion to the plan is linked to the fact that around the world, the IFC has been in the center of controversial water projects that entangle governments in a web of loans that are tied to various anti-people conditions.

In March, The African Women, Sanitation and Hygiene Network, a group of women advocates in the public and civil society also protested against the proposed PPP in Lagos and demanded the government’s stance on water.

The government promised to consider their demands but no statement has been made so far.

Confidence O.