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Do you drink ‘pure water’? Read this story

The raid, which was premised on intelligence reports, gathered by the agency’s officials opened a can of worms in the Abaji metropolis as several manufacturers…

The raid, which was premised on intelligence reports, gathered by the agency’s officials opened a can of worms in the Abaji metropolis as several manufacturers of illegal sachet water were apprehended and handed over to the Abaji Divisional Police Officer for prosecution. Sunday Trust leant that Nwanko’s wife who was the last person to be arrested by NAFDAC regulatory officers before she was handed over to the police, had her pure water company named “EXCELLENT” with fake NAFDAC Number 0110361 and a Batch Number, L0580. Others involved in the illegal trade included James Amobi, the general manager of Anasons Food Company which produces All Star sachet water with fake NAFDAC registration number. During the raid, it was discovered that the manufacturers carried out their nefarious activities under unhygienic conditions with water not treated to remove the dangerous germs, and then packaging the water in unsterilized, non-food grade sachets for unsuspecting people to consume.

It was also discovered that the manufacturers of the All Star Pure Water package direct rain water without any form of purification as “pure water” for public consumption.

However, a producer of one of NAFDAC certified sachet water, who spoke to this medium on the condition of anonymity opined that “Before you build a factory, get the necessary machines and materials, upgrade the place well enough to be able to secure NAFDAC’s approval, you need large sums of money to do this,.” According to pharmacist Bolarinwa Yusuf, the agency’s chief regulatory officer in charge of FCT operation, “table water is one of the products regulated by NAFDAC as it is involved in all bodily functions and the strength of all bodily structures and water not treated is highly polluted with hundreds of toxins and impurities.

These impurities that come from physical, chemical or microbial contamination, according to him, can cause water borne diseases such as dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid and gastroenteritis that sometimes result to death. Over the years, NAFDAC has been waging war against the producers of unsafe drinking water, however, for the past two years, these unscrupulous elements have now found Abaji as a safe haven”.

“This is the reason why NAFDAC, in its efforts to safe guard the health of the nation, insists that packaged water (pure water) must be treated to remove possible disease causing germs”, he added.

 Access to safe water affects adequate sanitation, which, in turn,   drives the risk of water borne diseases especially in poor urban communities. The urban poor often spend up to 10 – 20 times more on water from vendors than pipe water.  The inability of government to consistently provide adequate water contributed to the proliferation of the so-called ‘pure water’ manufactured under questionable hygienic conditions. The provision of drinking water that is not only safe, but tasteless,   odourless and clean in appearance is top priority in any country that cares for good health, and poverty alleviation towards sustainable development.  Consumers cannot by themselves ascertain the quality of drinking water. Naturally, water that appears dirty, discoloured, smelly or with unpleasant taste will be treated with grave suspicion by consumers, thus causing them to find an alternative. However, appearance and other organoleptic properties are not all there is to Water Quality Assurance.  Regulation of packaged water is therefore a government intervention in the private sector for public good as it assures quality.

Some residents of the FCT ,who spoke to Sunday Trust on the rate of pure water consumption, said that they hardly watch out for NAFDAC’s registration number on the products, as often times, the circumstances under which some of the products are purchased do not afford them the luxury to carry out a detailed check for the agency’s approval number. However, some people have resigned to fate, believing that price increase or not, they can’t avoid the consumption of sachet water and that the products have become somewhat indispensible, particularly among low income people.

“One is bound to be thirsty anytime and this could happen anywhere. In such a case, there is no other solution than to cool yourself with a sachet of “cold pure water,” said Engineer Bello Adewale, an Abuja-based civil engineer.