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Study exposes derelict waterworks, poor infrastructure in Lagos

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has released a report of its three-month investigation on the status of the waterworks in Lagos in response to the state government’s public service campaign asking residents to wash their hands regularly to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

Tunji Bello
Tunji Bello, Lagos State Commissioner for The Environment & Water Resources

The report, titled “How Acute Water Shortage May Jeopardise COVID-19 Response in Lagos”, is said to be the culmination of fact-finding activities by CAPPA team which included visits to 13 waterworks spread across 11 local government areas of the state, and interviews with local residents.

According to CAPPA, its team visited Adiyan, Akilo-Ogba, Badagry, Bariga, Epe, Ifako-Ijaiye, Iju, Isashi and Lekki waterworks. Others are Otta-Ikosi, Shomolu, Surulere and communities around the headquarters of the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) in Ijora. Combined, the waterworks visited are supposed to provide Lagos residents about 137.6 million gallons of water per day.

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CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “When the Lagos State Government commenced its public service announcement on the need for citizens to regularly wash their hands with clean water, it was necessary to complement their efforts by ascertaining the true state of infrastructure that would deliver on that mandate. Unfortunately, the findings were very disturbing.

“Not only did we discover that many of the waterworks were performing abysmally below capacity, at the time of the most crucial need for residents, most were practically on lock down.”

According to the report, some of the reasons why the waterworks were performing abysmally include faulty engines, irregular power supply and lack of manpower among others.

It disclosed that Shasha waterworks in Alimosho – the most populated local government in Lagos – had not functioned for upwards of seven years. Infrastructure at the Badagry waterworks have started crumbling and the premises taken over by weeds. Only at the Lekki waterworks which services highbrow customers did the team learn that production was more regular especially when there is power.

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In Badagry, the water facility was overgrown with weeds while the buildings were crumbling due to years of neglect. Residents living near the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) headquarters in Ijora complained about not having water at a time the corporation was busy announcing improved services.

CAPPA recommended that the Lagos government should jettison its planned privatisation of the water sector and declare a state of emergency in the sector. It also urged the state government to integrate broad public participation in developing plans to achieve universal access.

Other recommendations are:

  • Institution of a probe into the N1.6 billion released for rehabilitation of the 48 mini and micro waterworks under the Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode administration and all water contracts in the state since 1999.
  • Lagos State Government should reject all forms of water privatisation and commodification.
  • Lagos State Government should fully uphold the human right to water as an obligation of the government, representing the people.
  • Lagos State Government should build the political will to prioritise water for citizens, leading to a comprehensive plan that invests in water infrastructure necessary to provide universal access, jobs, improved public health, and invigoration of the Lagos economy.
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