(Adds SEEG statement)
LIBREVILLE, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Gabon’s government said on Friday it had temporarily seized French environmental services group Veolia’s SEEG unit and intends to terminate its contract to distribute water and electricity in the Central African country.
The government has complained for years about frequent water cuts in the capital Libreville and threatened to freeze Veolia’s concession.
“In the interest of preserving continuity and quality in the public provision of drinking water and electric energy, the Gabonese state has proceeded exceptionally to the temporary requisition of the company,” Water and Energy Minister Patrick Eyogo Edzang said in a statement.
The statement said government-appointed administrators would manage SEEG during an interim period and “finalise the contractual rupture with Veolia according to applicable rules”.
In a statement, SEEG said it “regrets the sudden decision taken ... to break the concession’s convention and the brutal use of Gabonese forces who requisitioned the enterprise”.
“We now wait for the Gabonese state to respect applicable legal rights,” SEEG said, although it did not announce any plans to challenge the government’s decision.
Veolia, which provides drinking water to 100 million people across five continents, has been operating in Gabon since 1997. (Reporting by Gerauds Wilfried Obangome; Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain in Paris; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Adrian Croft)