Friday, August 9, 2013

Lagos slum dwellers protest planned cancellation of N3.2b World Bank loan

WORRIED by the risk of missing out of development, slum dwellers in Lagos Wednesday petitioned the Lagos State House of Assembly on the proposed cancellation of Lagos Metropolitan Development and Government Project funded by the World Bank.
   The project, worth N3.2 billion is designed to upgrade the low level of human, social and infrastructural base of communities like Amukoko, Ajegunle, Agege, Badia, Ijeshatedo, Iwaya, Ilaje-Bariga and Makoko among others.

    The slum dwellers, numbering about 100 stormed the Lagos Assembly to protest the plight of over 500,000 Lagosians living in slums and alleged plan by the World Bank office in Nigeria and state officials to suspend the project.
   Led by the Centre for Public Opinion Monitoring (CENPOM), a coalition of 20 civil society organisations, the protesters drew the attention of lawmakers to “impending cancellation by the World Bank and possible transfer of the funds to other elite initiated projects being promoted by a cash and carry commissioner of the state.”
    The petitioners, in a letter addressed to the House, added “at the centre of the plan to truncate the redevelopment of Lagos slums is the Nigerian Country Director of the World Bank who has not hidden her dislike for the continuation of the programme beyond September 2013.”

   They noted that while the Lagos State Government, the beneficiary of the loan and the Federal Ministry of Finance that executed the loan agreement of the project, had supported the continuation of the project through extension for another 18 months, “a move said to be supported by the Internal Task Team of the Bank, the Country Director has blocked the extension, preferring to transfer the remaining funds in the project to another one,” the statement reads in part.

  Zonal Coordinator for CENPOM South West, Segun Adebanji, on behalf of the petitioners, urged the Lagos Assembly to prevail on the Country Director of the World Bank to stop her intention to cancel the project funding for a minimum of 12 months and allow for the completion of all outstanding projects currently abandoned at different levels.

   They also appealed to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to intervene in the matter, adding that if the matter is not nipped in the bud, the suspension of the project will affect youths and women.
   According to Adebanji, about 17,000 pupils who are to benefit from the 450 new classrooms under the project would have their education in jeopardy; 60 per cent of the uncompleted road and infrastructure projects in these areas will be abandoned.

  Besides, over 50 per cent of the water projects which will provide drinkable water for the over two million people are at risk and over two million people who are involved (60 per cent women and children) would continue to live in poverty and squalor, since all the social upgrading projects will be abandoned.
    Receiving the petition letter, the Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji pledged to intervene to ensure that the project, designed to upgrade the low level of human, social and infrastructural base of the communities, is not abandoned.

   Ikuforiji told the demonstrators that the House was concerned about the plight of slum dwellers and promised to engage the state governor and the World Bank to sustain the project

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