The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) in collaboration with Public Services International (PSI) and Environmental Right Action (ERA) draw the attention of Nigerians to attempts by some individuals in the federal government to push water privatization into the Nigerian agenda for providing the citizens water.
AUPCTRE, PSI and ERA believe that water is a human right and therefore cannot be commoditized or be priced.
We have been voicing out our concerns for the broken promises of water privatization under the guise of Public-Private Partnership (PPPs). This is because PPPs is chiefly about profits maximization corruption, lack of transparency, contract and financial manipulation, poor service quality; under-investment, unsustainable and unbearable tariffs, all of which will make water inaccessible to the majority of the citizenry and inadequate financing.
As a result of these obvious realities more and more cities and governments that experimented the PPP idea eg Accra, Dar-es Salam, Johannesburg, India and Philippines are bringing water back to public hands. Paris, Berlin and Atlanta have also moved in that direction.
We are aware that in the process to maximize profits under PPP or Privatization, the members of the public are made to drink unsafe water and therefore become vulnerable to water related diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, typhoid fever etc thereby resulting to mass deaths and making governments to spend more in providing health services to the citizenry.
We wish to present an alternative to the PPP which is Public-Public Partnership. To us, PuPs means collaboration between two or more public authorities or organization based on solidarity, to improve the capacity and effectiveness of one partner in providing public water supply and or sanitation services. PuPs are peer relationships forged around common value or interests and objectives, which exclude profit seeking. The absence of commercial considerations allows public partners to re-invest all available resources into the development of local capacity, to build a mutual trust which translates into long term capacity gains, and to incur low transaction costs.
The comparative advantage of PUPs over PPPs extends to more ample opportunities for replication and scaling up. PuPs are far more diffused globally and induce less social resistance than PPPs. In addition, public operations that have benefited from PuPs tend to support other public utilities in need of capacity development, thus producing a multiplier effect.
You may wish to also know that the development potential of PuPs and other non-for profit partnerships for capacity development was recognized by the former United Nations General Secretary, Kofi Annan who in 2006 mandated Un-Habitat to create the Global Water Operator Partnership Alliance. Also in 2010, the European Commission earmarked over €40Million to PuPs and other not-for profit partnership projects in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries with the sole aim to develop operational capacity and enhance governance and sustainability in the ACP water and sanitation sector. This growing interest is demonstrated by the hundreds of applications for funding submitted by public utilities to international funders and by Ministerial declarations supporting PuPs.
Members of the Press, PuPs have also made tangible contributions to sustainable water development both in the global North and South.
It is in the strength of the above, that AUPCTRE in collaboration with PSI, ERA have been taking campaigns from State to State especially in Lagos, Delta State, FCT Abuja and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with a view to accepting the PuPs as an alternative to PPPs but also to amend the recently adopted Water Policy by the Nigerian Government through the decision of the Federal Executive Council to support PPPs instead of PuPs at its meeting of Wednesday September 28, 2016.
The Union is strongly of the opinion that the excuses advanced by the Federal Executive Council for supporting PPPs in preference to PuPs are not convincing enough.