23 January 2019

Nigeria: Again, Group Kicks Against Lagos Govt's Water Privatisation Plan

The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Service Employees (AUPCTRE) has kicked against the continued plan by the Lagos State government to run the state-owned waterworks using a public-private partnership model.

Addressing a press conference in Lagos, Tuesday, Abiodun Bakare, AUPCTRE's state secretary, said the scarcity of potable water provided by the water corporation to some parts of the state is deliberate.

"Water scarcity in some parts of the state is a deliberate strategy by the management of Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) to cajole Lagosians into believing that the only sustainable way of supplying water to Lagos residents is to adopt the much-discredited privatisation model of public-private partnership (PPP)," said Mr Bakare.

"It is disheartening to state here that at this critical period when countries throughout the world are embracing re-municipalisation, Lagos State is spearheading privatisation."

The Lagos State Government had continually insisted that it was not privatising its waterworks, but turning to the PPP model to enable it meet the water demands across the state.

Last week, the state government signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Finance Corporation to enhance revenue generation and provide advisory services on infrastructural development, a move civil society groups described as "suspicious."

"An agreement which virtually asphyxiates all the sectors in the state will ultimately be extended to a crucial sector such as water going by the IFC description that the deal is 'the first step,'" Akinbode Oluwafemi, deputy director at the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, said in a statement last week.

"This is going to be a long, windy road. It is unsurprising that this deal between the World Bank and the Ambode administration was done without proper consultation with the people of Lagos, and this is simply unacceptable."

At Tuesday's press conference, Mr Bakare said their union would resist any attempt to privatise water supply in the state.

"We are against water privatisation under any name PPP or otherwise," he said.

"We urge the Lagos government to halt the privatisation plans in the sector and prioritise sustained budgetary allocation to the sector.

"We also demand a probe of monies allocated to increasing water supply in the state, especially channelled through the LWC, since 2016, and a halt to the ongoing intimidation and victimisation of workers in AUPCTRE who are doing their legitimate work even under very poor work conditions created by the management."

In his speech, Mr Oluwafemi thanked AUPCTRE members for standing firm "in the face of brazen intimidation."

"It is disheartening that the water sector is allowed to slide even when the state government is internally generated revenue is now close to N60billion monthly. It is time for Lagos residents to ask questions."

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