By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Lagos State Government said it has commenced implementation and enforcement of the State Water Sector Law enacted in 2004.
It also confirmed the establishment of the Lagos State Water Sector Court to prosecute offenders and illegal water service providers.
According to the Commissioner for Environment in the state, Mr Babatunde Adejare, stated this on Tuesday at a two-day retreat organised for officials of the water sector in Lagos State on the establishment of Lagos State Water Sector Court with the theme ‘Towards achieving a safe and sustainable water sector in Lagos State.’
Mr Adejare, who was represented at the retreat by the Special Adviser to the Governor on 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 used the occasion to correct the erroneous perception presently filtering in some quarters that the State Government is privatizing the State owned 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 essential 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 practice of giving bail outs to the Lagos Water Corporation because of non-payment of water bills by water consumers” the Commissioner stated.
Mr Adejare added that government will continue to regulate the water sector to make it attractive for private sector investment in order to lessen the burden of expenses being incurred by the 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 practice 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 connection to desist from the act stressing that such illegal connection will not be tolerated and he maintained that only the State Water Corporation is certified to make such connections or disconnections.
The Executive Secretary of Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission, Arch. Ahmed Kabiru Abdullahi, bemoaned the increasing rate of waterborne diseases in hospitals in recent times, saying such development is epidemic and should be urgently addressed.
He said boreholes are also being constructed haphazardly without obtaining license from the government in line with prescribed standards provided by the Groundwater Quality Control Regulation.”
“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 added.
He further explained that boreholes for domestic use in single tenement homes will not pay water rates but the boreholes 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.
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 or companies that contravene the provisions of the State Water Sector Law of 2004 and he advised all those who are yet to comply with the licensing requirements to complete the process and obtain their relevant licenses from the Commission promptly.