The ‘Our Water, Our Right Coalition’ has commended the decision of some members of the US Congress to oppose the water privatisation projects being embarked upon by the Lagos state government.
The coalition had alerted the public about the government’s plans to “privatise most of the state’s water system”.
Twenty-three members of the Congressional Black caucus (CBC) and Congressional Progressive caucus (CPC) subsequently wrote a solidarity letter to the coalition, siding with Lagos citizens in their struggle against the privatisation.
The letter signed by CBC members and CPC members read: “While we cannot all be experts on the distinct water access challenges facing each of the world’s cities, we share your concerns that a move towards privatization of the water system in Lagos, including through public-private partnerships, could leave the city vulnerable to the negative impacts historically associated with various forms of water privatisation, including rate hikes, unaffordable service, inequitable access, worker layoffs, service interruptions, and failures to adequately invest in infrastructure.
“Privatisation also introduces significant governance challenges that can erode democratic control and oversight, including the government’s ability to regulate in the public interest.”
The coalition said the letter shows the caucuses have again shown their commitment to pro-people causes.
A similar letter of support from half of the CBC members in 2015 underscored the harmful effect water privatization schemes, including public-private partnerships, have on people of color around the world.
The CBC and CPC letter of solidarity draws from three US examples — Detroit, Flint and Pittsburgh — where the prioritisation of system finances over access has led to raised rates, shut off of water access for tens of thousands, and dangerous lead crises.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Akinbode Oluwafemi, ERA/FoEN deputy executive director, said “privatization is not the answer for Lagos just like it is not the answer for Pittsburgh and cities across the U.S.”
“We call on the Lagos government to end its anti-democratic pursuit of privatization and invest in public solutions,” Oluwafemi added.