N1.6b water project: CAPPA advocates probe, exposes grim water situation in Lagos

By Valentine Amanze

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has faulted the Lagos State government water programme and its fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.
It also called the state government to institute a probe into the N1.6 billion released for rehabilitation of the 48 mini and micro waterworks under the Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode administration and all water contracts in the state since 1999, while kicking against all forms of water privatisation and commodification.

CAPPA declared its position on Lagos water programme on Tuesday while releasing a report of its three-month investigation on the status of the waterworks in Lagos in response to the state government’s public service campaign asking residents to wash their hands regularly to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The report titled, “How Acute Water Shortage May Jeopardize COVID-19 Response in Lagos,” is the culmination of fact-finding activities by CAPPA team, which included visits to 13 waterworks spread across 11 local government areas of the state, and interviews with local residents.

CAPPA, according to its spokesman, Mr. Philip Jakpor, visited Adiyan, Akilo-Ogba, Badagry, Bariga, Epe, Ifako-Ijaiye, Iju, Isashi and Lekki waterworks.

Other areas the group visited are Otta-Ikosi, Shomolu, Surulere and communities around the headquarters of the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) in Ijora.

Combined, he said, the waterworks visited were supposed to provide Lagos residents about 137.6 million gallons of water per day.

In his explanation, the CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said:

“When the Lagos State government commenced its public service announcement on the need for citizens to regularly wash their hands with clean water, it was necessary to complement their efforts by ascertaining the true state of infrastructure that would deliver on that mandate.

“Unfortunately, the findings were very disturbing.

“Not only did we discover that many of the waterworks were performing abysmally below capacity, at the time of the most crucial need for residents, most were practically on lockdown.”

Besides, according to the report, some of the reasons why the waterworks were performing abysmally include faulty engines, irregular power supply and lack of manpower among others.

Shasha waterworks in Alimosho – the most populated local government in Lagos – had not functioned for upwards of seven years.

“Infrastructure at the Badagry waterworks have started crumbling and the premises taken over by weeds. Only at the Lekki waterworks, which services highbrow customers did the team learn that production was more regular especially when there is power.

“In Badagry, the water facility was overgrown with weeds while the buildings were crumbling due to years of neglect. Residents living near the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) headquarters in Ijora complained about not having water at a time the corporation was busy announcing improved services,” it stated.

CAPPA, however, recommended that the Lagos State government should jettison its planned privatisation of the water sector and declare a state of emergency in the sector.

It also urged the state government to integrate broad public participation in developing plans to achieve universal access.

Other recommendations are:

• Institution of a probe into the N1.6 billion released for rehabilitation of the 48 mini and micro waterworks under the Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode administration and all water contracts in the state since 1999.

• Lagos State government should reject all forms of water privatisation and commodification

• Lagos State government fully uphold the human right to water as an obligation of the government, representing the people

• Lagos state government should build the political will to prioritize water for citizens, leading to a comprehensive plan that invests in water infrastructure necessary to provide universal access, jobs, improved public health, and invigoration of the Lagos economy.

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