Groups decry water sector privatisation, advocate free access
WHETHER privatisation or Public-Private Participation (PPP), the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria and Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employees in Lagos, have said any attempt to transfer provision of water to private individuals is unacceptable.
In a joint press conference to give update on the state of current situation in Lagos water sector held last week, the groups said any move to privatize water sector either in Lagos or any other parts of the country would be resisted.
Though they admitted that, the nation and Lagos State in particular were dire need of clean water, the group, however, said the “solution was not in the profit-driven privatisation through PPP, but a strong democratically accountable management and pro-people public investment.”
To them, PPP arrangement was not pro-poor, but dummy promoted by the World Bank to make African countries and indeed Nigeria poorer, hence the nation and all stakeholders must reject any idea of privatising the nation’s water sector.
Speaking on Lagos water sector, Deputy Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, although the struggle to stop arrangement by the state government did just begin, it was unfortunate that the immediate the past administration maintained sealed lips, refusing to disclose any detail to the public, saying the initiative of water privatization was shrouded in utter secrecy, with virtually no information in the public domain.
“But intense local and international demands for disclosure by the Our Water, Our Right Coalition comprising civil society, labour and grassroots organisations forced the bank to open up on the water privatisation scheme, which centers on the appointment of its private arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to design a PPP water scheme for Lagos.
Our as a group, supported by our allies across the world forced the bank to open up, including announcing the cancellation of its pact with the Lagos state government” he said.
According to him, it was also sad that all through the struggle, the immediate past Group Managing Director of Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), Shayo Holloway shunned demands to speak on the issue.
Oluwafemi said findings have shown that the PPP model failed in Nagpur in India, Manila in the Philippines and has been rejected in Paris where the Veolia, which the IFC had a stake in, was forced to divest from managing public water assets, as the model was profit driven and if allowed in Nigeria, the poor would be denied of the essential commodity.
While commending Lagos Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for publicly admitting that water infrastructure in the state was in shamble, Oluwafemi said the state should do more by probing the water sector in the past 16 years, adding it was glaring that there was serious problem with the water sector in Lagos.