Lagos State Government says the implementation and enforcement of the State Water Sector Law of 2004 has fully started with the establishment of the Lagos State Water Sector Court to prosecute offenders and illegal water service providers.
The State Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Adejare, stated this recently at a two-day retreat organised for officials of the water sector in the State on the establishment of the State’s Water Sector Court with the theme: “Towards achieving a safe and sustainable water sector in Lagos State”.
Adejare who was represented at the Retreat by the Special Adviser to the Governor on the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Hunpe, said that the Water Sector Court became necessary considering the series of atrocities and illegal practices being committed by some members of the public stressing the need to bring such illegal operators/violators to book.
The Commissioner, although corrected the erroneous perception presently filtering in some quarters that the State Government is privatizing the state owned Lagos Water Corporation.
He maintained that the position of the State Government subsists that the Government cannot do it alone. Hence a ‘Public-Private Partnership’ is key in meeting the water needs of Lagosians within the shortest possible time.
“The truth is that the state government is not pleased with the present practise of giving bail outs to the Lagos Water Corporation because of non-payment of water bills by water consumers. In a sincere term, the state government cannot continue with the practise as it is not healthy for the system”, the Commissioner stressed.
The Commissioner added that Government will continue to regulate the water sector to make it attractive for the private sector to invest in the water sector in order to lessen the burden of expenses being incurred by state government while also giving quality services to the General public. This according to him should not be misinterpreted to mean that the Lagos Water Corporation is being privatised.
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Lagos Water Corporation, Engr. Muminu Badmos decried the rate and adverse effects of activities of illegal water connections saying that the practise is hindering government’s drive to meet the water needs of residents of the State.
According to him, the damages caused by construction activities, illegal connections, water theft among others is becoming alarming, expressing the belief that the introduction of the Water Sector Court would help curb the menace which had greatly affected the revenue generation of the State Government.
He warned residents of the State especially those involved in illegal water connections to desist from the act stressing that such illegal connections will not be tolerated.
Engr. Muminu maintained that it is only the State Water Corporation that is certified to make such connections or disconnections.
“I also want to urge members of the public to desist from seeing water as a social commodity because such belief is unrealistic as billions of naira is required to provide, maintain and regulate the water needs for the teeming populace of Lagos.”
Also, the Executive Secretary of Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission, Arch. Ahmed Kabiru Abdullahi, bemoaned the increasing rate of waterborne diseases in hospitals in recent time, saying such development is epidemical and should be urgently addressed.
According to him, “As we speak, about 50 per cent of patients checking into our hospitals are as a result of water-borne diseases which emanated from the contaminated and unsafe water we drink. In addition to this, boreholes are also being constructed haphazardly without without obtaining license from the Government in line with prescribed standards provided by the Groundwater Quality Control Regulations.
“Let me also clarify that the State Government will not tolerate illegal/uncertified activities of water service providers who operate as quacks in the water sector as they pollute the water sources. Water abstraction, consumption and distribution must be carried out in line with the regulations.”
He further explained that boreholes for domestic use in single tenement homes will not pay water rates but the borehole will require a license before construction while existing ones will be required to be regularised.
Those who abstract water for sale and for industrial use will pay a surcharge for water consumption.
Abdullahi said that in as much as the State Water Corporation owned by the State Government is also paying such surcharge for water consumption, no other institution has an excuse not to comply with the provisions of the law on payment of surcharges appropriately.
Speaking on the newly established Water Sector Court, Arch. Abdullahi said that the court will assist in the legal aspects and issues that may arise in the water sector.
The Water Sector Court according to him will among other functions prosecute individuals and companies that contravene the provisions of the State Water Sector Law of 2004 and advised all those who are yet to complied with the licensing requirement or who are at various stages of completion to complete the process and obtain their relevant licenses from the Commission while it still matters as no one is above the law.