Activists are concerned as a company involved in U.S lead poisoning bids to manage Lagos State water.
Veolia, the company linked with the Flint, Michigan massive lead poisoning, is on the shortlist to manage two-thirds of water system in Lagos.
Nayyirah Shariff, director at Flint Rising activist group, told BuzzFeed News.
“I feel Veolia is a snake, and they slithered over to Lagos to try to increase their profit margins,”
“They have a history of poisoning black communities in the US, and they should not be poisoning the largest African city on the continent.”
The campaigner said she was “shocked and extremely angry” when she found out that the French-owned water management company is among the three bidders for the Adiyan II project in Lagos.
Lagos suffers from lack of access to drinkable piped water and also has one of the highest child death rates from water-borne diseases. In hopes of improving the situation, local officials are considering partnerships with private companies from abroad.
The idea itself is controversial. Nigerian environmental and human rights NGOs are protesting against the privatization of the water sector, citing distrust of large multinational corporations and concern over government corruption.
They are drawing attention to high-profile controversies surrounding Veolia and the two other top bidders, Spanish company Abengoa and Dubai-based Metito, overseas.
The Emirati firm is linked to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which sparked protests from Native Americans, while Abengoa’s management caused protests and riots in Bolivia.
Veolia’s North American branch is currently being sued for its alleged role in water contamination in Flint, Michigan.The crisis, which started in 2014, caused massive lead poisoning, resulting in long-lasting health problems for residents.
Among the reported effects from drinking the water in Flint was a spike in fetal deaths and a dramatic deterioration in local children’s reading abilities. Activists fear Veolia’s involvement in Nigeria can end with a similar crisis, but on a larger scale and with more victims.