There are indications that the privatization of water in Lagos is still being pursued by the Lagos State Water corporation despite rejection of such by the communities.
A recent memo has revealed that on April 5, a delegation from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) visited the leadership of the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) to promote the partnership between the parties.
This is coming despite numerous attempts by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) to obtain a copy of the agreement from the Lagos State Government.
However, through a Freedom of Information Act request filed in the United States, CAPPA recently obtained a copy of the MOU and is able to shed light on the insidious plans within it.
A statement by Philip Jakpor, CAPPA Director of Programmes in Lagos, said it is increasingly evident that a memorandum of understanding ( MOU) between the two parties is being hidden from Lagosians because it contains a deeply unpopular, and dangerous, plan to fundamentally restructure the Lagos water sector and push forward privatisation under the guise of “private sector participation.”
Speaking in Lagos, CAPPA’s Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi asked “How many times will the people of Lagos be simply ignored and left in the dark in critical decisions made in their name under the guise of ‘’collective interest’’, but ultimately to the benefit of multinationals and states which have long exploited Africa?
As one example, the MOU outlines as an “Obligation of the Government” that Lagos State “explore options for private sector participation for the development and management of capital improvements, such as the development and management of Igbonla waterworks…” Lagos State has already stated its intention to privatise the Igbonla waterworks through a so-called “public-private partnership,” as described by private water industry trade publication Global Water Intelligence in October 2019.
The document further said the USAID and Lagos Water Corporation agreed that “there may be instances where due to regional sensitivities, the role of USAID/the Government may not be publicized as a participant in an activity under this MOU.” This indicates a clear, predetermined plan to limit true transparency about who is involved in various activities carried out through this partnership.
The USAID-LWC event on April 5 also heralded the announcement of an American corporation as a contractor. This is just the latest example of decisions related to Lagos’ water sector happening behind closed doors, while transparency to the people of Lagos is considered an afterthought, if considered at all, in a supposedly democratic system. Too long have decisions that will impact generations of Lagosians been made without the participation of the public, who will ultimately pay the price.
CAPPA has called on Lagos State governor, Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu not to not walk Lagos State down the same dangerous path of privatization saying, the abuses of private water corporations from Flint to Paris to Dakar, among many other communities, make it clear that there can be no fruitful “partnership” with this industry.
Oluwafemi and other representatives of the Our Water Our Right group further reiterated the demand of Lagosians for Governor Sanwo-Olu to terminate the pro-privatisation MOU with USAID and instead fulfil his government’s obligation to Lagosians who yearn for democratic ownership and public control of the future of their water.”