Traders in Lagos lament high cost of water on their businesses

By Edu Abade

Traders in Lagos, especially women, have lamented the huge cost they expend on water to ensure their produce remains fresh and marketable to consumers.

Lamenting the fact that they must patronize private water vendors to fill the gap, they told members of the African Women Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network (AWWASHNet) that they want the Lagos State Government to provide safe, clean, and affordable water in markets across the state.

AWWASHNet visited markets in Lagos to mark the Africa Week of Resistance Against Water Privatisation, which is commemorated by water justice activists annually to coincide with World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) annual meetings. This year’s commemoration will be held between October 11, 2022, and October 14, 2022.

During the engagement with the market women at Ogba Market, AWWASHNet Coordinator, Veronica Nwanya, said the visit was to obtain first-hand testimonials from market women and men, who depend on public water to keep their produce fresh, lamenting that the markets were largely ignored even by the government when issues of access to water are discussed, hence the need to amplify the situation in the markets across the state.

A food seller, Grace Oshonaike, said: “Our inability to get adequate water to wash food items compromises food safety and increases the chances of food contamination. If there is adequate water this will be avoided

A marketer, Bisola Ogundele, disclosed that the traders pay multiple taxes and other levies to the state government. We have no option other than to rely on any available water. It is a situation that we are forced to accept because we have little available after paying those taxes and levies

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Also, Musilikat Rafiu, a trader lamented that potable public water was nonexistent in Agege and Ogba areas of Lagos, adding: “So we depend on private water vendors. I cannot tell you that we know their source, so I agree that food contamination is possible, but it is not our fault. The Lagos State Government should make water available and cheap for us to procure.”

On her part, another trader, Odunewu Mgbemere, pointed out that the fact that the Waterworks do not function anymore puts all of us at risk of food contamination because the water we use in washing our fruits and other foodstuff is either inadequate or reused. Government should fix the waterworks and provide taps in the markets.

Responding to the concerns raised by the traders, Nwanya, explained that the engagement was an opportunity for them to voice their concerns to their elected representatives at the local, state and federal levels.

In her intervention, Associate Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Aderonke Ige, restated the need for the traders to also support the campaign against water privatisation and advocate urgent rehabilitation of water infrastructure with public funds.

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