2nd April, 2012
Lagos State remains the fastest growing city in Africa, with a population growth rate of eight per cent per annum. The state occupies a strategic position in the country, being the commercial and industrial nerve centre of Nigeria.
The state is one of the most densely populated metropolitan cities among developing countries in the world and an evolving mega city with attendant infrastructural problems, especially the issues of water and sanitation services delivery.
The Lagos State government has taken giant steps to ensure the state excels in the provision of infrastructural facilities to make life meaningful for the citizens. The need for the provision of these facilities, however, continues to mount in the face of increasing demand. Competing demand on expenditure has limited availability of funds for the water utility sector.
Therefore, to be self-sustaining in the provision of water and sanitation services in the state, the Lagos Water Corporation, LWC needs to look towards the private sector. A Lagos Water Supply and Sanitation Policy Framework is thus being developed for all stakeholders to contribute meaningfully for the betterment of all in the state.
It was as a result of this policy framework that the LWC held a stakeholders’ workshop on Lagos Water Supply and Sanitation Policy last week at the Event Centre, Alausa, in Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
The workshop brought together stakeholders in the water distribution and sanitation sector to brainstorm on the way forward and to ensure that every household in Lagos has access to affordable drinking water.
According to the Group Managing Director, LWC, Engr. Shayo Holloway, “government-owned companies are short of working capital, the opportunity to become viable corporate entities capable of meeting very high demand growth, large financial obligations, satisfying legitimate concerns from labour unions, protecting the poor from dramatic price rise, ensuring adequate environmental sanitation in waste water management and water resources management are the main reasons for drafting this policy.
“The overall objective of this framework is to develop appropriate water supply and sanitation legal instruments that will enhance sustainable water supply and sanitation services in the state and establishment of the State Water Regulatory Authority.”
Holloway said the essence of the gathering was to officially declare government’s intention to assist the LWC in the drafting and putting in place necessary legislation in the implementation of the policy in the state.
“Faced with low revenue collection, challenging service delivery and government inability to provide all funding to meet the ever increasing demand for potable water supply and adequate sanitation, reform is imperative to bridge the funding gap of the sector and provide an efficient and effective service delivery to the people.
“A key challenge in this sector is that the consumer is generally not exposed to the full cost of service delivery of this essential good. Before the commencement of the Public Private Partnership, PPP, approach in the sector, a realistic cost pricing of water utility should be considered to mitigate challenges of good service delivery as per best practice worldwide,” Holloway stated.
National Coordinator, National Urban Water Sector Reform Programme, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Engr. Benson Ajisegiri, at the event, said there was need for the government to commit more fund for the water sector, adding that it had been discovered that 80 per cent of diseases afflicting Nigerians are from consumption of bad water.
“Government is now being sensitized to put more money into the water sector. There is need for the private sector to get involve too. Water has economic value, we are looking at the PPP option,” he said.