By ‘Dotun Akintomide
Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has exposed the global infractions committed by the three multinationals pencilled down amongst companies set to enter a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with the Lagos state government to manage its water.
The companies – Veolia/Shoreline Group; and Abengoa, Naston & Partners; and Vision Scape Water Solutions/Metito shortlisted to partner Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) to manage water infrastructure in the state, as revealed by ERA/FoEN have been marked down as companies that lack credibility in terms of managing public assets evident in different countries where they operate.
This disclosure follows an announcement by the Managing Director, LWC, Engr. Mumuni Badmus informing citizens on a list of companies that will be managing Lagos water, despite public backlash earlier in the year that greeted the planned privatization through the insertions of what was described as anti-people sections in the Lagos Environment Law.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos, the Deputy Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi disclosed that “Definitely these are world-class companies. But these are also companies with world class issues that bother on delivery of poor water quality, bribery, human rights abuse, aversion to unionism, inhuman rate hikes, conflict of interest, among others.”
In a report exposing the three companies, ERA/FoEN stated that “Veolia is currently under investigation in Romania, France, and the United States for allegedly running a multi-year, multi-million-euro bribery scheme in Bucharest, Romania in order to raise water rates dramatically.
“Abengoa was one of the corporations behind the Bolivian privatization scheme that sparked widespread protests known as the ‘Cochabamba Water War’ and resulted in the eventual termination of the disastrous contract”
The New Diplomat also gathered that since Metito, the third company mentioned in the report signed agreement to manage water in Kigali, Rwanda, “there has been a large restructuring of Kigali operations, leading to hundreds of job losses for unionized water workers.”
Calling on Lagos government to seek public solutions to solve Lagos water challenges, ERA/FoEN warned that insisting on a PPP arrangement could jeopardize public interest on the matter.
“The Lagos State government hopes to privatize the Adiyan II waterworks through a so-called Public Private Partnership (PPP). Though Governor Akinwunmi Ambode claims that a PPP is not privatization, Lagosians will not be fooled,” the group stated.
It also noted that the plan by LWC to start installing water meters in Lekki, Yaba, Oworonshoki and other parts of Lagos should be termed as “a gradual plan to ensure those who do not have meters will not have any drop of water in their homes.”
Efforts to get reactions from LWC proved abortive, however, the corporation has always claimed the PPP with companies will enable it reach millions of residents in the state suffering from the challenges caused by acute collapse of water infrastructure leading to inability to access safe and drinkable water which has become phenomenal with Lagos.