Lagos Water Privatization: Group urges Ambode to halt secret concession of water infrastructure


The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) has urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to halt his ongoing concession of water infrastructure in the state.

Akinbode Oluwafemi, a deputy Director at ERA/FoEN, said the governor should declare his stance on the controversial Public Private Partnership of the water sector.

“As we have said time and again, the failure of the Lagos State government to open up on the controversial water PPP gives room for us to suspect that something is in the offing and the people are deliberately being kept in the dark,” said Mr. Oluwafemi.

“We cannot stop demanding that the rights of Lagos citizens to a free gift of nature must not be subject to the dictates of privatizers whose only interest is profit.

“Worse is the fact that the Lagos State 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 group also accused the Lagos State government of failing to take a clear stance on the controversy surrounding the PPP advisory contract that the World Bank was forced to cancel last year, following pressures by labour and civil society.

“At a rally organised in March 17, 2016 by the Africa Water Hygiene and Sanitation Network (AWWWASHNET) in Lagos, Permanent Secretary, Mr Biodun Bamgboye debunked the PPP plans saying the Governor had no plans to privatise water,” Mr. Oluwafemi said.

“Suprisingly, Governor Ambode was quoted as saying PPP was the way to go just two days after. 

“We are disturbed at these conflicting statements. In all these, we see a lot of so-called reorganisation at the LSWC which is evidently paving way for a PPP. These activities are carried out without due process and unknown companies are springing up to grab slices of our water resources.”

Mr. Oluwafemi also said his organization had observed a systematic non-release of funds meant for procurement of chemicals for water treatment by Mr. Ambode’s administration. 

“For us, this happening has become regular in the last seven months and fits into our belief that there is a grand ploy to make Lagosians believe that indeed the public sector workers cannot manage water infrastructure,” he said. 

“The ultimate aim of the brains behind this development is to goad Lagosians into believing the solution is in private hands.”

Last week, a United States lawmaker, Gwen Moore, expressed worries over the World Bank’s role in funding and promoting water privatization across the world.

Ms. Moore said the Bank’s lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, had not adequately monitored the conflicts of interest created when it takes equity stake in water corporations.

The World Bank, in December 2015, opened up that it has withdrawn support for a PPPs in Lagos and Nigeria.

“The PPP for the operation of the Lagos treatment works is not going to be possible under this project,” the World Bank had stated.

Going by the Bank’s statement, Mr. Oluwafemi said, the Lagos State government should take a more proactive step in ensuring the management of water resources is democratically implemented. 

“We have said it time and again that all people have a fundamental human right to water and Lagos citizens are no exception,” said Mr. Oluwafemi.

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