Communities in Epe, Lagos State, have decried the non-functional Epe Mini and Odoiragushi waterworks and the attendant water shortage.
The communities were recently visited by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), an environment-focused non-governmental organisation.
CAPPA went to Odoiragushi and Poka communities in Eredo Local Council Development Area in Epe in Lagos, to hold townhall meetings as part of implementation of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Just City Project on Mobilizing Lagos Communities for Participatory Water Governance.
CAPPA recommended that the Lagos State government should immediately commence repair and resuscitation of the Epe Mini Waterworks and Odoiragushi waterworks. The CSO also wants the Lagos State Government to reject water privatisation and commodification of water.
The CAPPA team was led by Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor, Associate Directors, Aderonke Ige, and Olatunji Buhari, as well as Olalekan Fagbenro, the Digital Officer.
The meeting in Odoiragushi started with opening remarks by Olatunji Buhari giving a brief background of CAPPA and Our Water Our Right Campaign which started in 2014 with the thrust of advancing the human right to water and challenge government plans to privatise the water sector.
On his part, Philip Jakpor, said that the lack of water adds more burden to women and girls who will have to travel long distances, experiencing risks to get water for cooking, washing, and maintaining proper healthy hygiene.
At the meeting in Poka there was also a large turnout of residents who were excited that the CAPPA team was visiting again after a similar visit in 2016.
When the CAPPA team visited the Epe and Odoiragushi mini waterworks, it was observed that they had not operated for years and have been overrun by weeds. CAPPA observed that the Odoiragushi waterworks was under lock and key and no one to speak to while Epe mini waterworks which could be accessed was also non-functional. In fact, it was gathered that the facility stopped working in 2007. The team also spoke with residents near both facilities who revealed that they depended on borehole for their drinking and other domestic uses. The team learnt that since assumption of office, the current helmsman of the Lagos Sate Water Corporation (LWC), Muminu Badmus, who is a native of Epe itself, has not paid a working visit to any of the waterworks to ascertain their production challenges.
Adesanya Oguntimirin, a Poka community representative, said, “I have been in the struggle for our people to have adequate and safe water for long. I have also been part of grassroots movement against water privatisation, and we have done a lot of activities, including protest, to the Lagos State House of Assembly and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s office. We have also written petition to our former representative, Olusegun Olulade on this matter.
“I have been living in Epe for the past 20 years, and we used to get public water twice a week but now it is no more. The waterworks is no longer functioning.”
A gallon of water we used to buy for N200 is now N600, all because the waterworks is not working.”
Stating her experience ArasiFunmilayo, a Poka resident said: “I am a farmer and I need a lot of water for my crops but there is no water. The money I make from my harvest is less than N15000 in a month, yet I use over N9000 to buy water. Even in my house, we depend on borehole and when there is no electricity, we can’t access water. We must travel like 3 kilometres to access water. The water situation in Epe is worse than most parts of Lagos. Please we will appreciate if CAPPA can help us reach out to the government to find a solution to our water challenge. We want government to help us to fix the waterworks.”
BisiOlobe another Poka resident said: “I have been part of the Our Water Our Right struggle since 2017. And I want to appreciate you for staying on course. Our government has neglected their duty and our representatives have also forgotten us. The politicians only come here to seek for votes; they don’t ask about the community needs. We don’t have water; we don’t have electricity. We want government to repair the waterworks so that we can have water to drink and use for other things. The money we expend on water daily is too much. In my household, I spend up to N500 daily and still it is not enough.”
Source: Nigeria Tribune