The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria has called on Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to halt the secret concession of waterworks in the state.
Addressing a press conference on Monday , the deputy director of ERA, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi said the governor should come out openly and declare his position on the controversial Public Private Partnership(PPP) in water sector.
“We have said time and again that the silence from the Lagos State Government to open up on the PPP shows something is happening behind the scene and citizens are kept in the dark, said 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 privatisers whose only interest is profit”
“Worse is the fact that the Lagos 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 government of creating a fake crisis in the water sector by non-releasing of funds to procure chemicals for water treatment by the current administration in the state.
“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’’
“The ultimate aim of the brains behind this development is to goad Lagosians into believing the solution is in private hands”.
Oluwafemi also accused the government of its failure to clear the air on the controversy surrounding the PPP advisory contract that the World Bank was forced to pull out following consistent pressure from Labour and civil society.
“In a memo to the LSWC, Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare said the PPP is “null and void”.
“At a rally in March 17, 2016 organised by the Africa Women Water Higiene and Sanitation Network (AWWASHNET) in Lagos, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office, Mr. Biodun Bamgboye debunked the PPP plans saying the governor had no plans to privatize water.
“Surprisingly 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 this we see a lot of so-called reorganization 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”.
Last week, a United States lawmaker , Gwen Moore expressed concern over the World Bank involvement in funding and promoting water privatization across the globe.
Moore in a letter to the World Bank president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim calls for the investigation of the bank private arm, International Finance Corporation(IFC) conflicts of interest when it takes equity stake in water corporations.
Following the public announcement by the World Bank withdrawing support for PPPs in Lagos, Oluwafemi said the Lagos state government should take a cue from this and be more proactive in ensuring the management of water resources is democratically implemented.