By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
The Lagos State Government has said it is working assiduously to expand access to clean water and sanitation services with a commitment to close the existing gaps in the sector in the best interest of residents and the general public.
Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the 3rd Lagos International Water Conference (#LIWAC2022) held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos on Wednesday.
LIWAC is an annual conference organized by the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LASWARCO) with the aim of bringing together stakeholders in the water supply sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector in Nigeria and beyond to inspire ideas for the advancement of the sector.
According to Bello, the administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu remained committed to expanding access to water supply in line with the THEMES Development Agenda for a greater Lagos.
He said the theme of this year’s edition of the conference – “Unlocking Investment and Sustainable Access to Clean Water and Sanitation Services: The Regulatory Imperative,” was specifically aimed at expanding conversation towards the greater agenda of exploring opportunities both in the public and private sectors to deepen access to clean water and sanitation services.
“It is no gainsaying that the resolution of the multifarious challenges confronting the water and wastewater management sector in Lagos requires a dedicated and thoughtful approach to delivering the ideals of SDG-6 to the citizenry.
“I am quite assured that the array of speakers and panel discussants from Organizations such as USAID, WaterAid, African Development Bank (AFDB), Organised Private Sector, and WASH Specialists, amongst others, lined up for this intellectual engagement will not only do justice to the theme of the Conference but also leave us with a worthy and practical road map to the resolution of water security problems,” Bello said.
In her remarks, Executive Secretary of LASWARCO, Mrs. Funke Adepoju said it was gratifying that LIWAC had become a veritable platform to exchange transformational and innovative ideas toward finding lasting solutions to water supply and sanitation challenges, especially in a megacity like Lagos, with over 24Million people and a projected annual growth rate of 3.2 percent.
She said the present administration recognizes that Lagos, as the 7th fastest growing city globally with the highest GDP and IGR in Nigeria, cannot achieve the agenda for a greater city-state without igniting the water economy.
She added: “The highlights of past editions have already attracted investment through a partnership with WaterAid to strengthen capacity building and promotion of water sector regulation.
“Also, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on the LUWASH program, a first step towards enhancing urban water service delivery in Lagos State by improving infrastructure and accountability, strengthening regulatory oversight of the LASWARCO, and strengthening the financial, and technical capabilities of Lagos Water utilities and private water vendors.”
Going forward, Adepoju said the Commission was working on the co-creation concept facilitated by WaterAid to demonstrate public-private partnership (PPP) regulation and community engagement through improved water supply delivery services as well as ongoing rehabilitation and upgrade of existing major water works, all geared towards improving access to clean water.
She expressed optimism that the second phase of Adiyan waterworks project, on completion, would hugely close the existing gaps in water supply by producing an additional 70MGD, just as she assured that the state government, through LASWARCO and other relevant MDAs, would continue to initiate, implement and sustain policies targeted at ensuring residents have access to drinkable water and hygiene services.
On his part, the keynote speaker and Chairman, Global Water Leaders Group, Mr. Christopher Gasson said for Lagos to close the gap in the provision of water supply, there must be a concerted effort and effective policy in place to attract both local and foreign investment.
He said if Lagos could capture all the money currently spent on pure water sachets in the state, it would be the richest and best-performing government in terms of utility in Africa.