Unions kick over plan to privatise water

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By Rukayat Akanbi, Bauchi

The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) have said that the Bauchi State Government’s plan to privatise water is “anti-people”.

The Unions has also enjoined Governor Bala Mohammed to stand with the people, while noting that the implementation of the policy would affect the most vulnerable in Bauchi communities.

National President of the Union, Comrade Benjamin Anthony while addressing journalists in Bauchi on Wednesday said that privatisation of water would expose residents, especially those in the inner communities to various diseases, citing the economic constraints of the users to afford water being operated by the private individuals.

Benjamin said: “It is a sad precedent that is spreading across the federation. From Lagos to Plateau, Delta, Imo, Edo and now Bauchi State, our findings show that the state governments are abdicating their statutory duty of providing basic social amenities for the people and instead, handing public assets to private owners.

“We learnt that, to convince citizens of the state to accept privatisation of the water sector, the state government has organised some village leaders, took them to Yankari and Swaziland to show them the benefits of privatization.

“At the time AUPCTRE pin-pointed the tragedy that water privatisation would unleash but to our surprise, we have learnt that the administration of Governor Bala Mohammed is planning to ensure the privatisation happens in the year 2020.

“If this is allowed to happen, the state government will in effect be gifting what is supposed to be a free gift of nature and best managed in a democratic space to profit hungry entities. As we had alerted and still do today, the Bauchi Urban Water Sector Law was hastily passed by the State House of Assembly in 2014 without a Public Hearing and without the consent and backing of the people. It has dangerous provisions including one that prohibits access to water for premises without water meters,” he said.

He said: “We are here to reiterate our opposition to this anti-people law, because in all cities where this same model was experimented, it led to rate hikes, poor quality service, shut-offs for the most vulnerable people in communities who cannot pay, lay-offs for workers, and other consequences that erode the universal access to water that the United Nations (UN) advocates.

“We are using this medium to reiterate our stand that Governor Mohammed can still right the wrongs we have observed in the law by jettisoning it. The governor must stand with the people and open fresh discussions on how to ensure that clean and safe water is available, adequate and affordable for all within the realm of the public sector which is democratic, open to constant review and protects the most vulnerable of our people.