*I’m always in trouble during my menstrual circle — Ketu resident
*I sneak into compounds with boreholes to get water — Abule-Egba resident
*… as CAPPA urges Gov Sanwo-Olu to fix water infrastructure, jettison PPP
By Agbonkhese Oboh
Waters surround Lagos State, but the residents are neighbours with water scarcity. The burden of non-availability of potable water, whether pipe-borne or otherwise, was made worse when the Lagos Water Corporation, LWC, Group Managing Director, Badmus Muminu, blamed the situation on customers’ breaking water pipes. Muminu said this during a radio programme, which coincided with the second anniversary of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration.
Muminu’s assertion upset activists and Lagosians alike. In the last three months, Lagos residents have been lamenting the water shortage in the state. In April and May, the two major water works in Lagos— Adiyan and Iju— did not produce up to 10% of their installed capacity. In fact, Vanguard did a comprehensive report, with pictures, on the state of the waterworks in the state. Read it HERE.
However, it was the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, a constant thorn in the flesh of the administration, especially over moves to privatise the water sector, that first screamed about Muminu’s claim that customers break water pipes.
CAPPA described the allegation against Lagos residents by Engr. Muminu as untrue, even as it added that fact-finding visits by CAPPA to a host of waterworks across the state showed deliberate and unacceptable abdication of responsibility by the state government.
CAPPA said its investigation revealed that the Adiyan Waterworks’ problem was a fault on a feeder line and the plant is now limited to one raw water pump. At Iju, it added, the silt and sludge treatment plant requires maintenance which has not been carried out.
According to CAPPA’s Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi: “It is disheartening and very disturbing that rather than lay the blame of the acute water shortage in Lagos on mis-prioritisation by the Lagos government, the helmsman of the Lagos Water Corporation, who should know better, blames it on the victims. It is double jeopardy.”
Oluwafemi pointed out that the state government is yet to acknowledge and act on two reports that CAPPA presented to it. The reports he is talking about are “How Acute Water Shortage May Jeopardise the Fight Against COVID-19,” published in 2020 and “Nearly One Year After, Water Shortages Still Persist in Lagos,” published in March 2021.
Oluwafemi added that: “Both reports showed the deplorable state of all the waterworks in the state that have been overtaken with weeds and turned to ad hoc car parking spaces.”
With the image painted by CAPPA, the condition of Lagosians, particularly in the poor rual communities, should be left to the imagination. But Oluwafemi said there is a solution: government should shift its gaze from the much-discredited Public Private Partnership, PPP, and other privatisation arrangements proposed by the World Bank and other international financial institutions in addressing the Lagos water crisis.
The people speak
But what do these Lagosians say? From Abule-Egba to Ketu, Epe to Mushin, the story is the same: no water.
Samuel Deborah, U-Turn, Abule-Ebga: I sneak into people’s compound to get water
We do not have water. No single waterworks is in this entire axis. I have children. If I have N200, I use N150 to fetch water and that is not enough. I still need to eat.
I usually buy a bucket of water for N50, and we can fetch up to 200 buckets in a day. Because I could not afford to continue to patronise the expensive water vendors, I now sneak into compounds that have boreholes to fetch water for my children and family.
Oguntimirin Adesanya, Poka community, Epe: How can we control coronavirus without water?
It has been so difficult to get water. The two waterworks in Epe are not working. If you approach water vendors, they sell a truck of 10 kegs for N400 and if there is no electricity it goes as high as between N500 and N700.
Another option we have is to go to the stream to fetch water. But at the stream we are always struggling in the queue and the government is telling us to maintain social distance. How can we do that when we do not have a basic thing such as water for proper hygiene and sanitation?
Bankole Adisa, Cardoso Street, Mushin: The water vendors know everyone’s apartment
We do not have public water in our community. It has become a security challenge for us also because we all patronise the water vendors and these guys know the way to everyone’s apartment. That alone poses a security risk to us.
READ ALSO: Adiyan Waterworks Project: Sanwo-Olu approves N600M compensation to affected property owners
We buy a bag of sachet water for N250 and if we are to buy a truck of water from vendors it costs between N500 to N600. The few privileged ones among us, who have boreholes, do not allow us to fetch water freely because of lack of electricity to pump water.
They complain that they are paying too much for fuel to pump water and it is understandable. We plead with the government to take us back to the era of public water.
Bukola Adepetu, Demurin Road, Ketu: It’s tough for us women because of our menstrual circle
Since I have been living here, I have not seen running public water. I have always bought water from private water vendors. I used to buy a jerry can for N40, but now it has jumped to N50 and if you are living upstairs, they will charge you more.
A truck of 12 jerry can costs me between N700 and N1,000 and most times I do not have a choice than to buy. The situation is even worse for us ladies because we must ration water in maintaining proper hygiene, especially during our menstrual cycle.
It has not been easy. We are suffering. Water is essential and we want the government to help us.
Anoymous: My family is down with typhoid
I have just completed typhoid treatment, which my child is also now combating. This is not unconnected to the unsafe drinking water that we consume.
And we keep consuming because we have limited feasible alternatives. Government should please rise to its responsibilities and save our lives.
Vanguard notes that any downpour reminds Lagosians how close they are to the sea: water everywhere. How to make it potable is the miracle successive governments in the state have failed to perform. Whether the administration of Sanwo-Olu considers this sector beyond sending out bills for what is not consumed remains to be seen.