On Tuesday March 10, Friends of the Earth Nigeria/Environmental Rights Action, organized a rally against plans to privatize the water supply for Lagos state.
As much as 40% of Lagos state’s population lacks access to piped water from the state’s water supply. In recent years, reports have emerged that the World Bank’s private arm, the International Finance Corporation is in discussion with the Lagos State Government to plan a Public Private Partnership water privatisation scheme. Efforts to privatize water have failed in cities around the world, including Accra (Ghana), Berlin (Germany), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Budapest (Hungary), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia), Maputo (Mozambique), and Paris (France) all of which took back control of their water supplies.
Akinbode Oluwafemi of Friends of the Earth Nigeria told Nigerian newspaper THISDAY: “What we are asking for is clear: we reject privatisation of water in any form, whether you call it Public Private Partnership or whatever, we maintain that water is not a commodity to be sold. We don’t want our people to be used as dollar symbols. Water is a right, and Lagosians deserve to get it.”
The rally started at 11am and ended at after 1:30pm with the delivery of a petition jointly signed by FoE Nigeria, Corporate Accountability International, Public Service International and Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees.
The rally had over 150 core participants in attendance drawn from the three water unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and 10 CSOs who, collectively marched from Ikeja under the bridge through to Allen round about before advancing to Alausa Secretariat where speeches were made at the entrances of the parliament and the office of the state governor, Raji Babatunde Fashola. Many people joined the march along the way.
Several TV and radio stations covered the march. The organizers distributed leaflets and explained the issues to commuters in their vehicles. Though most said they were in the dark regarding Lagos State Water Corporation’s plans, they expressed total support for the action. Wazobia FM – the radio station with the widest listenership in Lagos streamed the rally live as well as Radio Nigeria which has the widest reach Nigeria-wide.