• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Lagos State and the shutdown of Viju Industries

Lagos State and the shutdown of Viju Industries

The recent shut down of Viju Industries Limited by the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LASWARCO) for operating a water treatment plant without obtaining the requisite permit brings to the fore the unanswered questions as regards the role of government and the flipping focus on the least important things for the development of citizens, especially in less developed nations of the world.

Associated with the growing importance being placed on formal requirements for business operations by regulatory bodies in Nigeria to the detriment of the needed social services that are important for life and living is the penchant by the Lagos State government for increased revenue generation sources without provision of the concomitant services.

It is thus important that the Lagos State government carry out the necessary impact assessment and engage reputable institutions for partnerships that would unlock the necessary transformation of water production and supply, distribution, and safety for the residents.

According to Wikipedia, the population of Lagos is currently estimated at 15 million people. The UN-habitat says Lagos State is the smallest state in Nigeria, yet it has the highest urban population, which is 27.4 percent of the national estimate.

AfricaBusinessInsider also says Lagos State is the fastest growing economy in Africa with a high population density, while Yourbudgit says, “The population growth has a rate of about 600,000 per annum, with a density of approximately 4,193 persons per sq. km.”

It is a well-known fact that Lagosians have had to subsist under the most gruelling and uncomfortable situations to get social services like petrol, power, and water with many businesses failing to survive the tough business environment resulting in a fold-up of companies. Nigeria’s ease of doing business index is sub-par relative to her peers – African nations. As of 2020, Nigeria was 131st on the index with her closest neighbour Ghana ranking 60th.

It is ironic that even when Lagos State is surrounded by water and its population is increasing astronomically, the residents lack access to potable water supply.

Whereas, the government has been unable to provide water for the residents, instead she has stifled moves by private residents to independently access or create alternative sources of water supply.

Similar to the shutdown of the Viju Industries is the extant restriction on residents to drill boreholes within their abode without obtaining the requisite permit.

Given that the United Nations clearly spells out that access to water is a basic human right and the Sustainable Development Goal 6 similarly states: ‘Clean water and sanitation for all,’ tasking nations on the need for increased water services for all. One therefore wonders if there is a deliberate attempt to worsen the health of Lagosians or impoverish them the most.

In many neighbourhoods in Lagos, a part of one’s income is devoted to the purchase of water from private agents who ‘hawk’ water in carts with additional efforts being made to move water from central wells and single boreholes to the respective homes in the communities.

Sewage and waste disposal in the state lack modern services while slums still rely on the use of pit latrines till date. It is safe to say that the Environmental Protection and Management Laws that are being enforced are overly targeted at the wrong activities.

Read also: Potable water supply: Ogun to introduce ‘water kiosking’

With less than 40 percent of residents of Lagos having access to clean water, it is important that the LASWARCO refocuses its attention on cutting down indiscriminate and unsafe water distribution sources across the states by partnering Nigerian households, the private sector, and international multilateral agencies to ensure that water is not just provided in centralised locations in neighbourhoods but is also channelled to every household.

While this does not in any way suggest that the extant responsibilities for the monitoring of the production of safe and clean water and the punishment of violators are discontinued, these activities must be done under the acceptable legal limit and aligned with the greater focus for the good of the people of the state.

It is reported that LASWASCO has at various times sealed water factories in an unhygienic production environment, failure to comply with regulatory provisions, and operating without adhering to good manufacturing practices.

Nevertheless, this posits a great task ahead for the state government as the renowned international non-government organisation – WaterAid, earlier noted that in order for Lagos State to meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets on universal access to water, an annual sector spending of N300 billion would have to be committed.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State government in its Lagos State Water Supply Master Plan says water demand in the city is 540 million gallons per day (MGD), whereas production by the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC) is currently estimated at 210MGD.

“This shows a clear deficit of over 300MGD, which translates to less than 40 percent access to clean and safe water. As a government, we are not oblivious of this gap and its consequences on the health of our populace,” Femi Hamzat, the state’s deputy governor, once noted.

It is thus important that the Lagos State government carry out the necessary impact assessment and engage reputable institutions for partnerships that would unlock the necessary transformation of water production and supply, distribution, and safety for the residents. The importance of what has been deposed in the immediate foregoing cannot be over-emphasised. Indeed it is very consistent with the Jeremy Bentham doctrine of the greatest good, for the greatest number of the populace.

Therefore, we urge the Lagos State government to take this to heart and act accordingly in line with the humane injunctions that are inherent in this doctrine.