Aregbesola inaugurates N48.7 billion Ilesa water project
Activists flay engagement of Veolia, Abengoa, Metito to manage sector in Lagos
The Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola yesterday flagged off the N48.7 billion Ilesa water supply and sanitation project.The project with 60,000 cubic meterS when completed in 24 months would supply water to residents of Ilesa and its environs on a daily basis.Speaking at the ceremony, Aregbesola noted that the project, which will gulp N48.7 billion when completed, was the largest single project in the Western region.
Aregbesola, who recalled that he had approached the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for assistance on the project in 2011, expressed delight that the project was becoming a reality.He explained that the project, which will be completed in December 2019, was funded by the World Bank, IDB and the Federal Government, adding: “I am happy this is happening today, because the state has been on it for a long time.
“This journey started as far back as 2011when I went to the IDB for financial assistance on the project and I am happy it is a reality today.“I am proud to say that this water project is the largest singular project in the whole of western region, the project when fully completed would have gulped a total of N48.7billion. When completed, it will supply at least 60 million litres of water per day.”
Aregbesola explained that all the landowners, whose land would be affected by the project, have been compensated to the tune of N57 million, while calling on the people of Ilesa and environs to cooperate with and be hospitable to the contractors. Meanwhile, civil society groups yesterday condemned the engagement of three international firms namely: Veolia, Abengoa and Metito to resuscitate and manage the ailing Lagos State water sector.
Speaking at a press conference to register their displeasure against the move, the Deputy Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action, Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the move by the Lagos State government was anti-people and should be vehemently resisted by the good people of Lagos.
“The Lagos government plans to manage the water infrastructure in the state after the collective of civil society, community groups and labour unions unanimously said no to the anti-people sections of the Lagos Environment Law earlier this year,” he said.
Supporting Oluwafemi’s views, Achike Chude of the Joint Action Front (JAF) and former Lagos governorship aspirant and social crusader, Ayodele Akele, said: “One of our recommendations was that Lagos has all it takes financially to manage its water infrastructure and this must remain within the public space.
But we did not heave a sigh of relief when the Lagos government announced in April that 48 mini water works across the state would be up for rehabilitation and that it would cost tax-payers several billions for this to happen. We were interested in the details.
“Within some months snippets of the path the state government would take started emerging blow-by-blow,” they said. They added that it was worrisome that the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) in partnership with Veolia, Abengoa and Metito would start installing water meters in Lekki, Yaba, Oworonshoki and other parts of Lagos.
“We believe this is a gradual plan to ensure that those who do not have meters will not have any drop of water in their homes.” Oluwafemi said the Managing Director of LWC, Mumuni Badmus shortlisted the companies to manage an essential resource like water.
“Definitely, these are world-class companies. But they are also companies with world-class issues that bother on delivery of poor water, bribery, human rights abuses, aversion to unionism, inhuman rate hikes and conflicts of interest, among others. “We raised these issues following Badmus’ assurances about the companies but he asked that we provide facts on our allegations.
“Today, the Our Water Our Right Coalition makes public the facts the Lagos government demanded in this document, which not only details infractions linked to the companies, but also reiterate our demands on the way forward in the Lagos water sector,” they added.
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