By The Nation Staff for The Nation.
The ‘Our Water, Our Right Coalition’ has commended the 23 members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in the United States for supporting Lagos residents in their struggle against water privatisation.
Reacting to a letter from the CBC and CPC, which linked the Lagos struggle to those of U.S cities, such as Flint, Detroit, Michigan, Pittsburg and Pennsylvania, the ‘Our Water, Our Right Coalition’ said the caucuses have again shown their commitment to people through the letter.
The renewed support from the CBC and CPC comes a week after some lawmakers, led by Senate President Bukola Saraki, met with the CBC.
The letter reads: ”While we cannot all be experts on the distinct water access challenges facing each of the world’s cities, we share your concerns that a move towards privatisation of the water system in Lagos, including through public-private partnerships, could leave the city vulnerable to the negative impacts historically associated with various forms of water privatisation, including rate hikes, unaffordable service, inequitable access, worker layoffs, service interruptions, and failures to adequately invest in infrastructure. Privatization also introduces significant governance challenges that can erode democratic control and oversight, including the government’s ability to regulate in the public interest”.
A statement in Lagos, by ERA/FoEN’s Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “Privatisation is not the answer for Lagos just like it is not the answer for Pittsburgh and cities across the U.S. We call on the Lagos government to end its anti-democratic pursuit of privatisation and invest in public solutions.”
Oluwafemi thanked leaders in the U.S. for their support, adding: “We must band together to oppose this corporate grab of our water, from Lagos State to Pennsylvania.”
Expressing support for the Lagos campaign, Shayda Naficy, senior Programme director at Corporate Accountability said: “Around the globe, the human right to water is under threat and people of color, low income communities, and people in the Global South bear the brunt and are having to defend their rights in the face of disproportionate impacts,” said “Whether it’s at the World Bank or Michigan Legislature, this fundamental right must be upheld. The best way to do that is to keep water systems democratically accountable and in public hands.”
The letter is led by Representative Karen Bass (Democrat-California), ranking member of the Africa subcommittee, and Representative Keith Ellison (Democrat-Minnesota).
It is signed by Reps. Ro Khanna (Democrat-California), Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat-D.C.), Frederica Wilson (Democrat-Florida), William Lacy Clay (Democrat-MO), Mark Pocan (Democrat-Wisconsin), Hakeem Jeffries (Democrat-New York).
Others are Pramila Jayapal (Democrat-Washington), Brenda Lawrence (Democrat-Michigan), Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat-Texas), Bennie Thompson (Democrat-Mississippi), Donald Payne (Democrat-New Jersey), Stacey Plaskett (Democrat-Virgin Islands), Hank Johnson (Democrat-Georgia).
Also appending their names to the letter are Gwen Moore (Democrat-Wisconsin), José Serrano (Democrat-New York), Barbara Lee (Democrat-California), Michael Capuano (Democrat-Massachusetts), Emmanuel Cleaver (Democrat-Missouri), Luis Gutierrez (Democrat-Illinois), and Raul Grijalva (Democrat-Arizona.