Lagos is Africa's most populous city, and it is bordered by large bodies of water. But somehow, ironically, 70% of the 21 million people who live in Lagos lack access to drinkable water — a lot of residents get water from private water hawkers and water trucks, rainwater or polluted rivers and streams. And the state wants to fix that by bringing in private companies to fix the crumbling water infrastructure.
That makes sense, in theory: the government can offload the huge costs of repairing the water systems onto private companies with deeper pockets and technical know-how.
Private water hawkers in Lagos (Photo: The Cable NG)
But according to a Buzzfeed News report, the company at the top of the Lagos state government's list for the contract is Veolia, the company whose alleged “botched” role in the cities of Flint and Pittsburgh exposed residents to dangerously high lead levels in water.
Veolia, the world’s largest water company, is under investigation in at least three different countries, including Michigan, USA, which filed a complaint against the company for its role in overlooking contaminants in Flint’s pipes and making the situation worse. Veolia, of course, denies the allegations.
Veolia is being considered by the LASG, alongside three other companies for the contract, which would hand over almost two-thirds of the city’s water system to the winning bidder. The others on the list aren't much better: the Spanish multinational giant, Abengoa, was behind a disastrous privatization attempt in Bolivia that sparked months of protests before being scrapped, and Metito, has links via its largest shareholder, Mitsubishi, to investments in the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens Indigenous communities in the United States.
When the Lagos contract might be awarded is anyone’s guess, and information on the process isn’t publicly available, which is typical since we are not big on transparency or any other great policies.
Lagos Water Corporation (Photo: Pulse.ng)
It's not just the potential health risks that make this a wholly bad idea. Private companies who undertake these kinds of projects for governments go on to make profits from tolls and levies put on the infrastructure they've built (see: Lekki-Ikoyi link brigde); and in this case, drinkable water is now up for grabs to the highest bidder rather than democratically accountable officials. People have a right to clean water. Citizens have protested the privatisation of water several times — in 2016, and again in 2017 — and they're still protesting it!
According to Satya Conway-Rhodes, managing director of US-based Mayors Innovation Project, which helps cities find sustainable water solutions:
"With a private company, there’s no direct line of accountability. You’re just basically hoping the company will be a good actor and do what they say they’ll do. That’s not a good way to run anything — just based on hope.
Although companies claim that they have access to more capital and can bring in the money that’s needed to fix [utility] systems, the truth is there’s no free lunch. They’re not going to spend money on these systems out of the goodness of their heart."
With these kinds of developments, it's safe to imagine that one day every last drop of water will be controlled by profit-hungry private companies who seldom have any direct line of accountability, and who are definitely not carrying out these projects altruistically.
Lagos residents protesting privatisation of water in 2016 (Photo: Guardian NG)
Philip Jakpor, project manager at Friends of the Earth Nigeria — the local branch of the global environmental group — told BuzzFeed News:
"Rather than looking at water from the human-right perspective, the government is looking at 21 million residents and the revenue they can generate.
The reason they’re not compelled to do the right thing is because a lot of decisions so far have been taken in the dark."
Lagos is the latest African city to struggle with water scarcity. Earlier this year, Cape Town was on the brink of becoming the first major city in the world to run out of water.
If Veoila has a history of poisoning black communities in the US, why is the government okay with the risk of them also poisoning the largest African city on the continent? Isn't the job of an elected government to protect its citizens?
70% of the 21 million people who live in Lagos lack access to drinkable water even though the state is surrounded by water (Photo: Guardian NG)
About Article Author
Latest Nigeria News
- SFU exposes bank staffers, criminals forging ATM cards
- Splinter group emerges in APC
- 2019: Buhari remembers Jonathan, tells Kannywood his surprise
- Usain Bolt, Valletta contract goes south
- Injured trio return to training for Liverpool
- Brazil to inject $1.1bn into Nigeria’s agriculture, says envoy
- Musa skips his game to sort out family matter
- Billikisu is NWPL referee of the week
- Uber announces new safety toolkit app for operators
- UBA posts all-time high gross earnings for Q3
- FG proposes N8.6trn for 2019, plans tighter fiscal plan
- Nollywood actor, Lawyer task Federal government on qualitative education
- Ekiti: Fayose tackles Fayemi, DMO over debt profile
- Volunteer Medical Corps ready for 2018 conference
- 95% of workers in mega firms think their cybersecurity culture is poor — report
- FG mandates NCC to ensure even distribution of broadband in Nigeria
- Nigeria to cut down on borrowing spree
- Suspended coach back for NFF/CBN competition
- Girl Who Was R*ped By Lecturer & His Son Has Died (Photos)
- Tinubu Buys Part Of Intels Shares From Atiku?
- See Bishop Oyedepo's Mandate Estate (Photos)
- Did You Know? Eating Too Much Fruits Causes Diabetes
- Governor Ganduje In Trouble As Kano Assembly Begins Action
- First Photos of Ooni Of Ife With His Beautiful Bride in His Palace
- Fayose's Lawyer Reveals What He's Doing To Get Him Out
- Buhari Hosts Kannywood Actors In Aso Rock (Photos)
- PHOTOS: Nnamdi Kanu Spotted In Jerusalem
- APC Defies INEC, Submits Candidates For Zamfara
- Dangerous drug for diabetes, cancer in circulation, says NIA
- Oni of Ife sets for another marriage
- 2019: PDP agenda for Saraki forwarded to INEC
- Presidential race 2019: Re-structuring a condition for supporting any candidate – Aare Ganiyu Adams
- Lagos Assembly scraps Visionscape
- Etebo seals image rights deal with Myron Topclass Sport Outfits
- Police arrest fake lawyer for false information
- NFF President,Governor Bako Lalong to receive football awards in South Africa
- PDP Members Protest Over Osun Election Tribunal
- Fraud: NHIS boss reinstated by Buhari suspended indefinitely
- Sacked Policeman & His Gang Arrested Over Woman’s Murder
- Nigerian Students Made Generator Running On Water (Photos)