The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), has urged the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to immediately declare a state of emergency in the water sector. It also demanded that the Lagos House of Assembly convene an emergency session on the reported production status in nearly all the waterworks in Lagos.
CAPPA made the call at the public presentation of the COVID-19 and WATER report titled: One Year After Damning Report, Water Shortage Persists In Lagos, which coincides with the commemoration of this year World Water Day.
Themed ‘Valuing Water’, this year’s World Water Day is in recognition of the crucial role of healthy ecosystems in maintaining water supplies around the world.
While addressing journalists, CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said “this year’s theme reinforces our conviction that the water sector must be salvaged from for-profit entities and their promoters in government who have made it virtually impossible for our people to access safe and affordable water.”
Oluwafemi explained that it is contradictory for a government that embarked on public health messages broadcast on radio and television, asking residents to maintain a high sense of hygiene by regular washing of hands to curb the spread of COVID 19 and yet, refuse to invest public funds in water infrastructure in the state.
According to him, “some of the waterworks visited include Alimosho, Amuwo Odofin, Maryland, Mushin, Ikorodu, Ikoyi, Obalende, Otta-Ikosi and Onikan. None of them are functioning in optimal capacity.”
Oluwafemi warned that the dire water situation in the state is already causing apprehension among Lagos residents who fear that beyond COVID-19 , they may be exposed to the diseases while sourcing for water from unwholesome places.
His views were corroborated by Comrade Sylvester Ejiofor, a veteran unionist, who decried the lack of investment in the Lagos water sector, even as he revealed that the first waterworks in Nigeria situated in Iju was also one of the facilities facing neglect and possibly extinction.
Ejiofor said the depiction of privatization as efficiency and public sector as failure continues to be the clog in the wheel of achieving sustained funding of the water sector, even as he stressed that Lagos was far better than other states of the federation that had “audio votes” for water yearly and nothing on ground to show for yearly allocations.
Vice president of the Joint Action Front (JAF), Comrade Achike Chude also took a swipe at the national and state government in the country for collecting huge loans from the World Bank and other institutions with nothing to show for it.
He stressed that the convening by CAPPA and the report on the status of the water infrastructure in the state was to stair the consciences of those in power to action.
According to him, “If Lagos gets it right, other states will follow but unfortunately, Lagos is still toying with a failed privatization initiative promoted by institutions that want to keep Africa in perpetuity of debt repayment”
CAPPA Associate Director, Aderonke Ige said the document: One Year After Damning Report, Water Shortage Still Persists in Lagos was carried out as follow-up to a similar exercise in 2020 which observed rot in the waterworks in 11 local government areas of Lagos.
She said it was unfortunate that the situation had deteriorated to such extent that Lagosians now resort to self-help at a heavy price.
Corroborating her view, CAPPA Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor said that the neglect of water infrastructure in Lagos is already causing apprehension among residents who fear that beyond COVID 19, while sourcing for water from unwholesome sources they may be exposed to other diseases.
Jakpor frowned at the fact that excepting the Alexander Waterworks in Ikoyi which serves the elite and functioned optimally, every other visited water infrastructure across the state is begging for attention.