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Water scarcity hits Lagos, as Adiyan, Iju waterworks shut over N53M debt

Sanwo-Olu called for intervention

 

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

 

The shortage of water supply currently being experienced by Lagos residents may worsened, as Adiyan and Iju Waterworks have been permanently disconnected from the National grid over an alleged outstanding debt of N53million.

It was gathered that the amount was supposed to be paid by the immediate past administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

This came as Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu have been called on for intervention, as well as revamping of the state Water Corporation, LWC, believed to have been crippled by inactivity of the immediate past administration o provision of portable water supply.

Recall that the 70 Million Gallons per Day, MGD, Adiyan II, commenced during the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola.

However, in the last four years, there have been series of complaints from the public over epileptic water supply to homes in the metropolis, as staff of the agency battled tooth and nail to meet the demands of the people.

The LWC, headed by Engr. Muminu Badmus, as Managing Director, since 2015 had struggled to bridge the water supply gap of residents, but to no avail due to paucity of fund.

According to investigation, the production capacity in 2015, even with the Independent Power Project, IPP was 52MGD per month, which represented less than 26 per cent capacity utilization, this was improved to over 70 per cent capacity utilization under the watch of the current Managing Director.

At the moment Adiyan and Iju Waterworks have been permanently disconnected from the National grid with an outstanding debt of N53million which was supposed to be paid by the immediate past administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

According to source, who preferred anonymity, throughout 2018, the corporation could not access its budget in any way, while in 2016 and 2017 only two-quarters of chemical subvention was released, coupled with the issues of power supply, which had made it impossible to continue to produce water constantly.

“In an attempt to persuade Ambode to release funds for the Corporation operations, several letters were written to him, through the then Commissioner for the Environment, appealing to come to the rescue of the corporation, to which there was no response.

The independent power provider had to ration power supply due to non-payments of its monthly power charges for over one year which was handled at the state level by the Ministry of Energy, after several letters were written to the then Commissioner for Energy and the Commissioner for the Environment for their intervention.

It was learnt that when there was no response, the LWC had to take urgent steps to reconnect to IKEDC to secure regular power supply, which entailed having a payment plan to repay the outstanding N53 million owed them.

As a result of this development, the corporation had been faced with delay in payment of workers’ salary, as the workers were owed several arrears, with lots of unremitted pension deductions, and retirees owed gratuities and pensions.

Also, sources revealed that the corporation had made efforts towards the payment of pension deductions until the last few months, which was as a result of the payment plan it had with IKEDC where it paid close to N17 million monthly just to ensure sustenance of power for water production.

It was also gathered that the past administration of Ambode stopped the ongoing construction of 70MGD Adiyan II to supply water to western part of the state, largely by stopping the funding of the massive project.

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In the last four years, the source claimed there was no single waterworks constructed by the immediate past administration as part of efforts to tackle water challenge in the state, against meaningful efforts put in place by his predecessors.

“The two waterworks (2MGD Mosan Okunola and 4MGD Otta-Ikosi) commissioned during his tenure (2016) were constructed by Fashola administration.

“The corporation was in a big mess under Ambode, we battle to get funds for common water treatment chemicals, and other meaningful water projects that is suppose to get his attention and transform Lagos to a State of abundance got killed by his administration; and this resulted to inability of the Corporation to provide water to all in the State,” source said.

However, record shows that the LWC has four major water works with an installed capacity of 123 MGD; 48 mini and micro water works of an installed capacity of 91 MGD. In total the corporation has a capacity of 214 MGD. This combined capacity if fully utilized can serve about 30 per cent of the population living in the state.

Meanwhile, the corporation, in the last five years, had made several efforts to close the water demand gap through PPP (Public Private Participation). This has however, been slowed in coming to realization as a result of delay in approvals from the state government.

Honestly, ‘we cannot continue to run away from our shadows, Lagos, a resilient state and the commercial hub of Africa, with the population of over 22 million people with Lagos Water Corporation as the Water utility agency of the State Government can only bridge water demand gap and sustain its operations with the adoption of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as research has shown this clearly.

“Provision of Water to citizens and residents of Lagos State will require over $10Billions which cannot be funded alone with tax payers money. Water supply in the state should be private sector-driven projects, as this is the only way forward.

“Therefore, to ensure Lagos residents have un-hindered access to safe water, Governor Sanwo-Olu led administration, must focus on PPP and should also come to the immediate aid of Lagos Water Corporation to avert total collapse as well as provide portable water to teeming populace,’’ the source stated.

 

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