The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended Lagos Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for inaugurating the Mosan-Okunola Mini-Waterworks in Abesan area of Lagos but still frowns at the governor’s failure to open up on a controversial Public Private Partnership (PPP) water arrangement which public pressure forced the World Bank to cancel last December.
Governor Ambode, represented by his Special Adviser on Housing, Mrs. Aramide Giwanson, had announced that the waterworks which would also service residents of Abesan, Baruwa and neighbouring communities was part of government’s efforts to make life conducive for the people.
Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) Group Managing Director (GMD) Muminu Badmus who was also at the inauguration said contract for the construction of the mini-waterworks was awarded in May 2009 to Messrs. Eldorado Nigeria Ltd at a cost of N457. 3 million by the government and has a capacity for 50,000 gallons daily. He also announced the introduction of water kiosks from where water will be sold supposedly cheaply to Lagosians.
But in a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN Deputy Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “while we hail this initiative of providing water infrastructure from the public purse, we still desire that Governor Ambode make a public statement on the controversial PPP which is suspected to be going forward even after the World Bank washed its hands off the deal in December 2015.”
“The inauguration of the Mosan- Okunola waterworks is indeed welcome because it has the potential of increasing the number of Lagos households that will have access to portable and safe water from the pipes. It also reinforces our conviction that with a strong political will the Lagos government can fund the expansion of public water infrastructure.
“This notwithstanding, we are not satisfied that there are secret concessioning of public water infrastructure and contradictory statement from the Lagos government on the PPP. We have said it time and again that with an internally-generated revenue hitting as much as N30 billion monthly the Lagos government has no business allowing the World Bank or other international agencies to advise it on how to fund or provide its citizens water.”
Oluwafemi stressed that PPP in the water sector has failed to deliver in Nagpur in India, Manila, and other cities of the world that experimented on it based on the advice of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private arm of the World Bank hence Lagos must not venture on that path.
He added that the planned introduction of water kiosks was another pointer to the for-profit only bent of Lagos government as the initiative was not driven by the desire to expand water infrastructure to Lagos homes.
The ERA/FoEN boss argued that, “public water must remain in public hands because it can be democratically-controlled and the operators subject to public scrutiny. We still expect Governor Ambode to make a public statement on this to ease the tense environment that a PPP in the water sector would create”.