The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has asked the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, to side with Lagos people in rejecting Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the water sector.
ERA/FoEN, in a letter to the Speaker titled ‘Privatisation is Not Solution to Lagos Water Problem,’ frowned at attempts to foist the PPP model of water privatization on the people despite the World Bank withdrawal from the scheme following civil society pressure and documented failures in other parts of the world.
Speaking at an event to mark the Lagos House of Assembly’s one year in office on June 9, Mr. Obasa had said that privatization was the way out of the state’s water crisis.
“If you want clean water and to stop people from digging borehole, you must privatize the agency (Lagos Water Corporation),” Mr. Obasa was quoted as saying.
“Foreign partners want to come in and this is at a cost. Then come to think of the dangers of sinking boreholes. So what we are trying to do now is to create the conducive environment for the foreign investors to come in.”
ERA/FoEN described Mr. Obasa’s comments as “very disturbing.”
In their letter, the group insisted that PPPs fail to invest in the kind of massive infrastructure that people need, adding that the most celebrated water privatization schemes have failed as governments who fell into the trap are now opting instead for remunicipalisation.
“Rather than bring efficiency, PPPs are known to have led to cost-cutting measures, prices hikes, layoffs and the extraction of profit from the people at the expense of human rights”, it read.
Manila, Nagpur, Cochabamba and Paris, were cited as examples of PPP failures and the recourse to remunicipalisation – a term for taking back previously privatized public water infrastructure from the hands of the privatisers.
ERA/FoEN said the Lagos State Water Corporation present parlous state of affairs is a result of over 16 years of World Bank-driven policies, bad management and monumental corruption.
“Apart from budgetary allocations, the LSWC attracted loans from the World Bank and international donor agencies to fund water supply expansion schemes such as the Iju, Adiyan, and Isashi Waterworks, as well as expansion of distribution networks,” the group stated.
“These loans, running into billions of naira have not translated into improved water supply for residents and no one is being called to account for this.”
The group drew the Speaker’s attention to Resolution 64/292 of the United Nations General Assembly which recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.
The resolution urged national governments to take necessary action to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water for all.
On the way forward, the group recommended that water remain in public control, urging the speaker to support its campaign to get the Lagos government to reject all forms of water privatization.
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