Civil society and labour activists, under the platform of Our Water Our Right movement, have urged the Lagos State government to reject all forms of corporate control of water and privatisation of water services through public private partnerships (PPPs).
The groups include the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and the Joint Action Front (JAF), among others.
They made the call in a petition to Lagos State Government through the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Tunji Bello, after a rally to mark the commencement of the Africa Week of Action Against Water Privatisation slated for October 11 and October 15, 2021.
The week of action was convened by the Africa Coalition of the platform, comprising labour and civil society clusters from Cameroun, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda, among others.
The rally, which culminated in the delivery of the petition, started at the Marwa Gardens with activists chanting solidarity songs and displaying placards with inscriptions such as: “Water Is Not Deal,” “World Bank Stop Pushing Water Privatisation or PPP On Africa and World Bank,” “Leave Our Water,” among others.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “The decision to deliver this petition to Lagos State Government is informed by its seeming disposition to favour privatisation at a time of growing resistance to privatisation across Africa.”
Vice Chairman of JAF, Achike Chude, CAPPA Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor and Secretary, Lagos Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Abiodun Bakare, who spoke in similar vein, corroborated Oluwafemi’s position.
In the letter to Bello, titled: Africa Week Of Action Against Water Privatisation -Uphold Human Right To Water, the groups expressed concern that the Lagos State Government is yet to present its blueprint on how to develop the sector to guarantee universal access of water to Lagos citizens and that comments from some government officials indicate that there was an obsession with water through PPPs.
They noted that experiences from countries and cities where water had been privatised show hike in rates, job losses, low water quality, shut offs and ultimately government thrown into perpetual debts.
“Most of the cities have embraced remunicipalisation, which represents taking back water from privatisers and putting it under public and democratic control. Buenos Aires, Berlin, Ghana, Gabon, Jakarta, Paris, Tanzania, and lately Cameroun are some examples.”
The groups demanded that the Lagos State Government should reject all forms of water privatisation and fulfil its obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human right to water for all people by prioritising public investment.
They also demanded that the state government should ensure meaningful public participation in water governance, with particular focus on the perspectives of those alienated from decision-making, namely: women, low-income and rural communities and enshrine the human right to water in legislations, among other demands.
Source: The Guardian Newspaper