The price of sachet water, popularly known as pure water, has been increased across Abuja metropolis and environs, with a bag now sold at N200 and a sachet for N20, according to information from producers of the commodity.
However, on the streets, the situation is different as one bag sold for between N250 and N300 and a sachet for between N20 and N30 depending on the area and who is selling.
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The pure water situation in the Federal Capital Territory got complicated following a strike action embarked upon by the producers of the commodity.
Before now, speculations were rife that an increase in the price of the commodity was eminent as producers have been complaining of high production costs, unfavourable business climate among others.
But the situation came to a head last week when the Association of Table Water Producers of Nigeria went on strike to drive home the members’ agitation that they could not continue production and sell at the prevailing rate due to the economic climate.
According to them, inflation, increase in the price of materials for the production of sachet water and other variables would not allow them to continue with the business as usual.
John David, a pure water marketer in Gwagwalada area of Abuja told Daily Trust: “We are back from strike now, but we now sell the water for N200; we need to make people understand that we cannot continue with the old price.
“You can see that things are now difficult in the market; the price of leather has increased, the water we use is from the water board because we have to be sure that what we are giving the public is safe drinking water.
“Also we go through so many processes in making the water good enough for drinking. So if we continue at the old price, the business will collapse. I know even the people that drink the water will not want the business to stop.
He said what they have done is in the interest of everybody and would assist them to make sure the water follows the necessary process and everyone could be sure of what they are drinking.
But speaking on the matter, Shuaibu Jibrin, a resident of the FCT, said the only problem with the situation is that many people might resort to different sources of water and that might lead to water-borne diseases.
He said during the sachet water producers’ strike, many people had already started drinking water from the public waterworks and boreholes, adding that with this price increase, they might just continue to drink the water, which might lead to an outbreak of water-borne diseases.
“How many people can buy pure water for N250 to N300? Some people are complaining about the cost as it is today. How much more this new increase? I am only afraid of diseases because people will drink whatever they see.
“I can tell you that soon the price of bottled water will also go up, that is the way it starts, and there is nothing in the country that the price has not increased in the last few months. Is it bread, foodstuff, even the price of soap that has not gone up?
“Let us not talk about cloth and others because those ones are not essentials. We pray the middlemen will also not increase their own and it will not be more than we are seeing,” he said.
Ime Samson, a food vendor in the Utako area of the FCT told Daily Trust that they now sell pure water for N20 per sachet, adding that in some places they even sell for N30.
“I am selling my own for N20; before we bought the bag for between N100 and N120, but it is now N300 to N350. So how much do you want us to sell it?”
Asked if people still patronize her due to the increase, she said, “yes people are buying; some people even prefer to buy bottled water, because during the strike, for some days we could not even get pure water at all.
“So, people are even happy if they can see and buy at that price. I believe that was why they went on strike in the first place, now people are happy to see the water and they can sell at any price they want.”
At the old Airport junction in the Kado area of Abuja, Daily Trust caught up with a food vendor who was already serving her customers water from a container.
The vendor, who sold different kinds of delicacies, was seen giving drinking water from a jerry can to her customers who were also happily drinking without worrying about the consequences.
When Daily Trust sought to know the source of the water, she simply said: “This is borehole water; it is very clean, this is even better than some of the pure water that people sell around here.”
Another food seller in the Wuse area of the FCT, Mrs Monica, told Daily Trust: “Since the pure water people went on strike, I have been selling only bottled water. I just wonder what they want people to drink; do these people think that it is everybody that can buy bottled water? Some people will just eat and not drink water and that is not good at all.
It is not that they don’t want to drink, but when you tell them to buy bottled water they will say no because it is too costly.”
She said she hopes the government will intervene in the issue, because that is what the majority of the people drink, stressing that almost all the people that came to eat drank pure water.
“So I am surprised by this strike. Even if they want to increase the price, why should they go on strike first, it is not good at all,” she said.
One of her customers, Abdul Sule, said: “I wonder where this country is going, everything is now beyond the reach of the ordinary man, even pure water that we are drinking is no longer affordable.
“What do they want the ordinary man in Nigeria to do? I just imagine where we are going to end up. If we continue like this, things will definitely continue to be hard for people.
“You can imagine if what they are saying is true, that they want to be selling the bag for N300 or more. How many people can afford that? The truth is that many people will not be able to afford it and many will resort to drinking from other sources of water,” the food vendor said.