Lagos Denies Engaging World Bank to Privatise Water Supply

  •   Says charging 5 kobo per litre isn’t sustainable

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Lagos State Government has denied engaging the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank, to privatise water supply in the state.

Rather, the state government noted that it had initiated strategic engagement with private interests and investors “to supply potable water to every home at affordable price in the state.”

The Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare disclosed this at a news conference he addressed recently, alongside the Special Adviser on the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Hunpe and the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr. Saliu Adeyemi, among others.

Civil society groups had recently protested a plan by the state government to privatise the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), which was initiated under the immediate past Babatunde Fashola administration.

But at a conference he addressed in Lagos on Monday, Adejare denied that the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had plans to privatise water supply or enforce any policy that would inflict pains on the people of the state.

Categorically, the commissioner clarified that the state government “is not privatising Lagos State Water Corporation. I want this to be clear to every Lagos residents. We do not have such plan.”

However, Adejare noted that Lagos residents should realise that charging 5k per litre of water “is not sustainable,” thus suggesting that a new price regime would have to be evolved.

He added that the state government “will go into public-private partnership (PPP). We are not directly dealing with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) or the World Bank. It is expensive to build water treatment plants. We are currently constructing on Adiyan II.

“Already, we have Adiyan Water Treatment Plant I already working. We also have the one at Iju working. We have Isasi working. We just finished one at Ikota Ikosi. We have other mini water works. But we are building Adiyan II. Initially, the Adiyan II project was N54 billion.
“But foreign exchange crisis has pushed it to over N64 billion. This is a huge cost for the state to bear alone. Due to cost implication and foreign exchange crisis, we plan to work with private concern. We are so sure our population is above 25 million.

“So, we are still going to build another water treatment plant at Lagos East. The State Executive Council just approved the first one we are going to construct. That is the one we will use as a model for others. That is Odomola II water treatment plant,” he added.

The commissioner disclosed that the Odomola plant would supply water “to Victoria Island, Lekki, Ajah, Ibeju and Epe among others. We are going to get water from Osun River. The State Executive Council has just approved the Odomola II project.”

Currently, the commissioner explained that the Lagos State Water Corporation “is charging 5k per litre. Water vendors will fetch the same water and sell it at N20 per litre. The bottled water is not better treated than our water. This is not sustainable.

“What the water corporation is charging cannot sustain its service. In fact, in the last two months, the corporation cannot pay its salaries. 5k per litre cannot bring them any revenue. The rate we are negotiating is not up to N1 per litre. It is about 64 kobo per litre,” he explained.