A return to public forms of administration in water supplies is a phenomenon that has been spreading globally. Over the past 15 years almost 235 cities around the world, among them Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur have either terminated or have desisted from renewing the contracts with private concessionary companies. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and the Scandinavian countries, for example, water delivery is, by a tradition, almost 100 percent public.
After 18 years of underperforming private management, water services in Jakarta could be returning to public management to guarantee the human right to water in accordance with the Central Jakarta District Court ruling of 24 March 2015, which annulled the current contract agreements.
The Indian Express - The municipal body’s financial losses from water works has reportedly increased by Rs 60 crore per annum, leading to demands, from both opposition parties and the local community, for the ouster of the private player.
Thruthout - Private companies have been working to make a profit from water since the 1600s, when the first water companies were established in England and Wales. The first wave of water privatization occurred in the 1800s, and by the mid- to late-19th century, privately owned water utilities were common in Europe, the United States and Latin America, and began to appear in Africa and Asia.
The question of how to finance water and sanitation is crucial. Leading international institutions emphasise the role of private finance despite major concerns. The idea that private finance can bring the needed investment is remarkably persistent in global policy circles and leads to a dangerous lack of attention to the far more realistic option of mobilising public finance for infrastructure to provide essential services for all.
Public-private partnerships were heralded as a solution to the millions who still lack access to water, but after two decades the evidence is in: they have failed. An unprecedented surge of cities is now bringing water back under public control.
The Central Jakarta District Court on 24 March annulled the water privatisation contracts of Suez (PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya – Palyja) and Aetra, finding that the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) were negligent in fulfilling the human right to water for Jakarta’s residents.
The Premium Times - The announcement sent a collective sigh of relief to the water corporation staff and civil society activists. After months of negotiation on how to privatize the water supply in Lagos, between the World Bank and the Lagos Water Corporation, the bank has called off the talks.
Public water and electricity are back in vogue. Yet many state-owned utilities are now undergoing corporatisation: they have legal autonomy and manage their own finances. Is this a positive development in the struggle for equitable public services? Or a slippery slope toward privatization?
Lagos is among the many cities in the global south where investment in water supplies is desperately needed, yet there is no consensus on whether the answer lies with private management, the public sector, or a combination of both.
Jakarta is currently striving to join many cities around the world and remunicipalising its water. A series of fact-sheets that outline how and why water privatisation failed and the potential for a renewed effective public service.
Why are people around the world reclaiming essential services from private operators and bringing their delivery back into the public sphere? There are many motivations behind (re)municipalisation initiatives: a goal to end private sector abuse or labour violations; a desire to regain control over the local economy and resources; a wish to provide people with affordable services; or an intention to implement ambitious climate strategies.