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A day at a typical water packaging plant

“We operate from the borehole which has a submerged pumping machine into a receiving tank and from that tank, there is another pumping machine that…

“We operate from the borehole which has a submerged pumping machine into a receiving tank and from that tank, there is another pumping machine that pumps into the water filtration system through the industrial filter. The water from there goes into the production tank. Water from this tank is also pumped again into the micro filters and from there it goes into the ultra violet light. The micro filter is in three segments. One is to take away the dirt, another one is to take away the colouration and the third one is to remove the particles and the ultra violet light is to take away the dirt.

“When the water is pumped into the receiving tank, the process of purification then begins. A pumping machine will then pump through the industrial filters which are in two sizes. First, is the carbonated filter and the second one is the sand filter. The two takes away every germs, dirt and colour from the water. From there the water is then pumped into the filter and flushes every system, including the industrial filters through the pumping machine that takes it into the production tank. So, at that level, we now do the back washing which will flush every system including the two industrial filters from there we now send the water into our micro filters. At that level, the water is already pure but we still send it into the micro filters. One of the segments is called 1.0,0.5 and .05. This one is to further purify the water and to get rid of the colouration that has escaped the industrial filters. So at this level there will be no taste, no particles and no colouration and then the water will now pass through the ultra violet light, which further takes away every organism that have escaped the purification processes so far. The water will then be sent into the packaging machine.

At this level, with the help of a pumping machine, the water gets into the packaging machine which will now package it into the sachets. It is an automated machine that seals itself and packages the water. Getting the NAFDAC approved number is a very long and painstaking process. The approval fee is about N29,000. In his response, the NAFDAC regulatory officer for the FCT, Pharmacist Bolarinwa Yusuf submitted that the violation of NAFADAC registration, as far as production of table and sachet water is concerned, varied from production under unhygienic condition to labelling lapses or poor manufacturing practices, which involves the use of wrong materials, wrong personnel which impedes good production. “If the right personnel is not used, it carries the penalty of N50,000 or outright closure of the production plant. In terms of labelling lapses, for any violator to be properly traced, certain information needs to be carried on the material, such as batch number, which enables you to trace the product that is affected, and then the date of production and expiration date. In a situation whereby the manufacturers refused to put the expiration date markings on the product, a fine of N20,000 is imposed. Sachet water is renewable every two years, because the registration is listing registration and not full registration. Every two years, there is always a comprehensive assessment of all the equipment being used. If any producer refuses to renew his licence, it also attracts a fine of N50,000. In a situation where there are poor hygienic and administration practices, we impose severe penalties”.

Information made available to this medium from NAFDAC stipulates that all manufacturers of packaged water in Nigeria are mandated by law to be registered with the agency in order to regulate and guard against unwholesome practices and safeguard the health of the nation. Part of the process involved in the registration, according to NAFDAC, includes the application by the prospective manufacturer to the agency which will enable the agency to carry out a pre-production inspection and assessment of the manufacturing facilities, personnel and location of the plant. Acceptable sources of water for the production include spring water, which must be collected into a reservoir at the shortest possible distance from the source to prevent environmental pollution and borehole water. The use of well and deep well water is forbidden because, according to the agency, in most Nigerian cities the general mode of disposal of sewage is by the use of cesspools, septic tanks and pit latrines. Consequently, ground water is polluted to a high degree by seeping from various sources.