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LASWARCO moves to regulate water, wastewater service providers in estates

LASWARCO moves to regulate water, wastewater service providers in estates

Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LASWARCO) has vowed not to leave no stone unturned to properly regulate the charges as well as water quality by commercial water and wastewater service providers in estates across the state.

LASWARCO Executive Secretary, Mrs Funke Adepoju, gave the assurance during a stakeholders’ engagement held at the Commission’s office in Alausa, Ikeja with the Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA), the umbrella body for over 120 Lekki Estates, Communities, and Stakeholders from 1004 area to Epe and Ibeju Lekki.

Representatives of various estates in the Lekki area, including Victoria Garden City Property Owners and Residents Association (VGCPORA), CarltonGate Estate, Chevron Drive, among others were present at the parley.

According to Adepoju, Section 311, subsection 1 of the Harmonized Lagos State Environmental Management Protection Law, 2017 empowers LASWARCO to protect the long-term interests of consumers with regards to price, quality and reliability of services in the water sector. Besides, she said the Commission is also statutorily empowered to regulate activities relating to abstraction, provision, consumption, production, supply, distribution, sale and use of water, adding that LASWARCO was also charged with the duty to oversee the quality of service and the tariff payable to ensure the financial stability of the water sector and regulate allowable returns to the operators, be it public or private water service provision.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Timeyin Uwejamomere, the Managing Director, Mangrove and Partners Limited, described Lagos as a huge market for water supply services. He suggested that defined roles be set for different actors in the sector without interference of any sort. Mr Umejamomere suggested that The Lagos State Water Cooperation should be broken into small units and managed sizably to adequately serve the growing population of the state. He argued that it was unreasonable to expect a single utility to serve the whole populace of the state.

“In line with its mandate, therefore, all required efforts will be channelled in line with the provision of the law to ensure that utility service providers in estates (of more than 50 tenements) across the state deliver value for money, comply with standards and guidelines, including having the prescribed license and permit to operate as water service providers,” Adepoju said. She said the engagement with LERSA was one of the series that would be taking place, as, according to her, it had become necessary to sensitize the consumers of water in estates across the state of their basic rights and responsibilities and that of the service providers and government Adepoju noted that such interaction had provided opportunity to clarify the obligations of all concerned in the scheme of delivery of effective water supply and sanitation services and the laid out mechanism for complaints and seeking redress with the Commission.

“Before now, water service providers operate without recourse to the Commission and were not held accountable, and considering the direct nexus between public health and drinking water quality, the administration of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu is keen on ensuring that consumers are protected in a way to improve access to safe and clean water and most importantly, that the misuse of monopoly or non-transitory market is prevented. “As a Commission, we must establish that balance. However, even as we make progress with ongoing huge efforts to ensure the availability of public water supply, the government still has the responsibility to protect consumers from the unfair market price. “Therefore, as a service provider, the provision of the law is that you cannot just wake up and decide that you are jerking up your charges or make people pay for poor quality water or impose arbitrary charges for services that should ordinarily come as value addition. “What we are saying is that there are regulations that operators must subject themselves to in terms of tariff setting and standards. And we are doing the same for government service providers,” Adepoju said.

President of LERSA, Olorogun James Emadoye, who led the delegation, said the association was delighted to note the regulatory reforms being championed by LASWARCO, noting that the efforts of the government were well appreciated. He said aside from pricing and water quality, the regulatory initiative of LASWARCO would also help to garner useful data which, in the long run, would help in effective mapping and environmental protection. “We are glad that all our fears are being addressed by the Commission. Where there is regulation, it is not meant to oppress one for another but meant to discharge equity to all stakeholders and this is where we also stand,” Emadoye said.

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