An advocacy group, Water is Life, says the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC) has been unable to bridge the huge gap between demand and supply of potable water in the state because of inadequate funding over time.
Convener of the group, Tunde Ogunbiyi, who is launching a campaign for the appropriate funding of the sector, alleged that the last four years had been particularly difficult for the corporation to meet the water need of the ever growing population of Lagos, leading to intermittent cut in supply to homes and offices.
There have been series of complaints by the residents of Nigeria’s former capital, as staff of the water corporation struggled in vain to meet the demand of the over 21 million residents.
Statistics from the LSWC shows that Lagos runs with about 326 million gallons shortfall in daily supply, which leaves millions of people sourcing water from boreholes, wells and broken pipes running through the gutters.
While the current production capacity of the corporation is put at a little over 214 million gallons per day, the state actually requires at least 540 million gallons to make any meaningful impact in homes and offices.
It is estimated that an investment of about $3.5 billion would be required to execute additional water schemes to cover the state. According to the water master plan being executed by LSWC, some measure of stable supply ought to be achieved by 2020 if the $3.5 billion investment is made.
Pundits, however, believe that this huge investment would require not only appropriate pricing of water in the state, but also the buy-in of the private sector through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, a move said to have been slowed, as a result of delay in approvals from the immediate state administration.
Although the state government over the years had invested billions of naira in the sector, Ogunbiyi, the convener of the advocacy group, believed that much was not done under the immediate past administration, as the “LSWC was starved of funds.”
According to Ogunbiyi, the corporation headed by Muminu Badmus as managing director, since 2015 had struggled to bridge the water supply gap, but hampered by poor funding.
“The production capacity in 2015 even with the Independent Power Project (IPP) was 52MGD per month, which represented less than 26 percent capacity utilization. This was improved to over 70 percent capacity utilization. At that period, Adiyan 1 and Iju Waterworks had been permanently disconnected from the national grid with an outstanding debt of N53 million which was supposed to be paid by the state.
Throughout 2018, the water corporation could not access its budget, while in 2016 and 2017, only two-quarters of chemical subvention was released, coupled with the issues of power supply, which had made it impossible to continue to produce water constantly,” the group alleged.
Ogunbiyi decried the non prioritisation of the sector, despite its critical role in the overall wellbeing of the populace. The Water is Life convener further pointed to the low morale of staff of the LSWC, resulting from delay in payment of salaries, “as the workers were owed several arrears, with lots of unremitted pension deductions, and retirees owed gratuities and pensions.”
This, he argued, was due to the decline in the revenue base of the LSWC, as a result of intermittent cut in supply due to unavailability of reliable power supply and chemical to sustain production.
“To compound the misery in water sector, the previous administration stopped the ongoing construction of 70 million gallons per day Adiyan II to supply water to western part of Lagos, largely by stopping the funding of the massive project, which commenced during the administration of Babatunde Fashola,” the group said.
The group called on the new administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to prioritise the water sector against the backdrop of the growing population of Lagos, just as it stressed the need to consider PPP as an option in funding water production and distribution in the state.
“To ensure Lagos residents have un-hindered access to safe water, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu led administration, must focus on PPP and should also come to the immediate aid of Lagos Water Corporation to avert total collapse,” the group argued.
The LSWC currently operates with four major water works with an installed capacity of 123 MGD; 48 mini and micro water works of an installed capacity of 91 MGD, bringing its total installed capacity 214 MGD.