Lagos, FG Working To Kill Waterworks To Pave Way For Privatisation, AUPCTRE, CAPPA Signal

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The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), have raised fresh alarm on what they called attempt by some individuals in government to ‘stifle’ public waterworks in their bid to impose a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement on the water sector in Lagos state and in the country at large.

This much was said at the 6th Quadrennial State Delegates’s Conference of AUPCTRE which held in Lagos, Wednesday.

Bemoaning the continuous degeneration of public water infrastructures in Lagos, leaders of the Labour Union and CAPPA said it appears the devil is in the details as per the level of decadence seen in the water sector, despite several efforts by the ‘Our Water, Our Right’ Campaign to stop the commodification of water in the state and nationwide.

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Director of Programmes, CAPPA, Comrade Philip Jakpor reminded the workers that water is a common heritage, hence, it must not be allowed to be commodified, adding that the acceptance of the privatization plans will only deprive communities of their human right to water and send workers out of their jobs.

“We have been fighting this fight since 2014, there have been various attempts to privatise water under the public-private partnership model. But we’ve been sensitising the public in partnership with AUPCTRE.

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“There is a deliberate attempt to stifle the Water Works and to allow them to die to pave way for the privatisation to happen. So, it is good that we raise the alarm on this issue because it is deliberate and we must continue to speak up. And to speak up, we need a well capable water union, and I think with what we are seeing, the capacity is growing. We want yo commend the leadership of AUPCTRE at all levels both at federal and state for working very well with our comardes,” Jakpor added.

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His submissions were backed by the NLC General Secretary in Lagos, Comrade Biodun Bakare, who termed the proposed privatisation plans by Lagos state as a ploy to “take away the waterworks and entrust them into the hands of cronies.”

On his own part, Comrade Sikiru Waheed, described the reintroduced National Water Bill by federal lawmakers as an obnoxious bill that’s targeted at hijacking people’s common resources and appropriating same to the central government.

The New Diplomat reports the controversial bill had failed twice at the National Assembly before its latest draft was recently presented to lawmakers amid its attendant backlash, especially from various southern groups.

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National Chairman, AUPCTRE, Comrade Benjamin Anthony, while lauding Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his commitment towards workers’ welfare in Lagos, urged his administration to jettison the idea of water privatisation outrightly and fix water infrastructures instead. Anthony argued that “once the governments do the needful by providing public water, the citizens will gladly pay.”

Reacting to submissions made on the parlous state of public water infrastructures in Lagos, Mr Babatunde Williams, the Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo-Olu on Labour Matters, who represented the Governor at the event said he is familiar with the issues in the water sector in Lagos, but insisted that “it’s not a fair comment to say the Governor has not done much in the water sector in Lagos.

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“A committee has been set up to revamp the Lagos water House (Lagos Water Corporation) and make it operate without subvention,” the Lagos Government claimed.

It would be recalled The New Diplomat’s investigation had exposed the scandal surrounding the N1.6 billion waterworks rehabilitation contracts awarded in the shadows by the Lagos Water Corporation between 2017 and 2018.

The investigation which lasted for months revealed that there’s been little or nothing to show for the rehabilitation contracts awarded to 10 companies as production capacity continues to drop to a record low in some of the waterworks across the city’s metropolis and its suburbs. And many others remain shut till date without producing a drizzle of water despite past claims by the LWC and the Lagos Government that much was being done to revitalise the water sector.

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Now, the concerns that the government might be using the public water crisis in Lagos, a city of over 24 million people, to push its privatisation agenda continues to trouble anti-PPP campaigners and stakeholders in the water sector.

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