Group urges Ambode to halt planned Lagos water privatisation

Drinking water

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria has congratulated Akinwunmi Ambode of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on his victory at the just-concluded governorship elections in Lagos.

ERA/FoEN urged him to live up to his electoral promises when he assumes office, particularly the immediate reversal of the planned privatisation of water in Lagos.

Mr. Ambode won the April 11 Lagos gubernatorial election
​,​ beating his closest rival, Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party to clinch the governorship slot in one of the most keenly contested elections in Lagos’ history.

In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said the emergence of Mr. Ambode is a manifestation of the wishes of the electorate who cast their votes in the hope that the governor-elect will sustain the enviable pace of development the state has enjoyed in the last 16 years of democratic rule.

“We join Lagos residents in congratulating Ambode for the mandate he has received to steer the affairs of the state for the next four years,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, Director of Corporate Accountability, ERA/FoEN.

“We urge him at this point to rally all critical stakeholders to implement policies that will not only alleviate the sufferings of the people but also improve the revenue base of the state.”

Mr. Oluwafemi said that it was pertinent at this point to remind the governor-elect of his electoral promise when he hosted critical stakeholders, including workers in the water unions, that he will not add to the burden of Lagosians through water privatisation.

“While we trust the governor-elect to push through in halting privatisation under the failed Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, we are deeply worried that the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), with the support of the World Bank, is still pushing very hard for privatization of water which will disenfranchise millions of Lagos residents,” said Mr. Oluwafemi.

Despite civil societies’ opposition to the scheme, the LWC has forged ahead with its plan to allow private sector participation in water supply in Lagos.

According to Mr. Oluwafemi, the LSWC had recently put out a bid for contractors to commence a process which will also include pre-paid meters.

Shayo Holloway, head of the LWC, had continued to insist that the corporation was not privatising water supply in Lagos but engaging in PPP.

Mr. Oluwafemi said that for ERA/For, the PPP promoted by LSWC had failed in Nagpur, Manila, and other cities of the world where government is now taking back privatised water corporations as was demonstrated in the divestment of Veolia from public water in Paris.

He asked the governor-elect to now clearly state his position on the issue of water privatization in Lagos state,requesting him to oppose the PPP water privatization scheme and rather strengthen the public water system for optimal performance.

“While we congratulate Mr. Ambode for his victory, it is time to work the talk by guaranteeing universal access to water by Lagos residents. We demand a halt to the dangerous PPP. Remunicipalisation is the way to go. There is no other alternative.” said Mr. Oluwafemi.

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