Monday, 21 March 2016

Stop any form of water privatization in Lagos, women tell Ambode

The African Women Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network (AWWASHN) has called on the Lagos State Government to stop any form of water privatization in the state

The group made the call on Thursday during a rally in collaboration with Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE Nigeria); AUPCTRE Lagos; Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF);(ECOWA); Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC);  Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC); Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU/NLC); Agriculture and Allied Employees’ Union of Nigeria (AAEUN), among others at Alausa Ikeja.
The rally took off from Ikeja under bridge to Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.

Mrs Victoria Nwanya, Chairperson of AWWASHN said, the group is troubled that decades of influence by the World Bank and the private water industry have pushed the currently proposed water privatization plan in Lagos and similar schemes throughout countries of the Global South.

“As a group, we are deeply worried that the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC) with the support of the World Bank and private water corporations, is pushing hard for privatisation of water in Lagos under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model that is known to have failed in other parts of the world.

“Failures in water PPP models have been recorded in Manila, Philippines where, as part owner of water corporations that win PPP contracts, the World Bank has positioned itself to profit from this model. This conflict of interest drives the Bank’s misleading marketing, especially its promotion of key “success stories “like Manila and Nagpur, India, where water PPPs have failed. Around the world, cities from Paris to Dar Es Salaam that have attempted to solve water crisis with PPPs have failed and have instead rolled back water privatisation and advanced down the road of remunicipalisation,” she said.

Nwanya however urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and other decision-makers to stop any form of water privatization in Lagos, “including PPPs that are based on models that fail to uphold the human right to water and has locked governments into long-term contracts and enslavement of their people. This is further proven in facts that such deals have proven exceedingly difficult for cities to exit, despite rate hikes, service cutoffs, and unfulfilled infrastructure promises. They prevent cities from making crucial progress towards real solutions to water access challenges.”

The group demanded a public statement informing Lagos citizens of your government’s stance on Lagos’ controversial PPP water privatisation scheme.

Also speaking, Deputy Director, Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, , said, “This week is the week of Global Water Day. In October 2014, we heard that they LASG had an agreement with the World Bank through the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for advisory for the privatisation of water in Lagos. The World Bank however denied that when we checked but we are aware that there have been series of attempts to privatise water in the state.

“Water is a gift of nature to us especially in this state; we also have our tradition attachments and we are all owners of this water.’’

Oluwafemi said, World Bank privatizations have been a failure randomly with the examples of India, Philippines and France.

Also, Mrs Louisa Ono – Eikhomun, Executive Director, Echoes of Women in Africa, said, “The planned privatisation of water is unacceptable by Lagos women. No matter the pressure from the World Bank and IFC, we urge the LASG not to bow; the areas we have gone into privatisation in this country have failed or are struggling.

“Women, girls and children, who are the vulnerable group will be the ones to be mostly affected if water is privatized. Public and personal health will also be of huge concerns because if we do not have access to water, we will look for other sources which many be unwholesome. Water is our right and the government has a responsibility to provide essential social amenities to us.”

In his response, Permanent Secretary, Office of Chief of Staff , Governor’s Office, Mr Biodun Bamgboye,  said that the government was sensitive to the plight and demands of the people.

“I am here to listen to you and also respond to the best of my competence and assure that you demands will be taken to the relevant department for considerations. This is a government of inclusion to make Lagos work for everyone.

“The Water Corporation is undergoing reforms; there is change in the leadership and also government investment on some of the needs of corporation .However, as at today, the LASG has not and does not have any intentions of going into any privatisation on water issues

“If there will be any change of policy that will affect the generality of the people, we will carry people along in doing,’’ Bamboye said.

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