-How NAFDAC is aiding and abating sale of unsafe water in Imo
The rise in the cases of typhoid, cholera and other ailments contracted via consumption of unwholesome water in Imo State have been attributed to the poor hygene condition of the various places and environments where table and sachet water are produced in Imo state more especially in Owerri the state capital.
A survey which took Nigerian Newsguide about four months to conclude has proven that about 95 percent of Table and sachet water popularly known as pure water are unhygenically produced by greedy water merchants whose intents are to make money without minding the killer implication of their untoward and unpatriotic acts. From Owerri to Orlu to Okigwe and other semi-urban centres in Imo state, the story is a sad tale of act of wickedness perpetrated by men and women who have little or no love for the consumers of water products in the Eastern Heartland.
The survey indicated that aside the fact that the said Table and Pure Water are produced in dirty environment, with carefree and hygiene-unconscious workers, there is hardly any water-producing company that has a functional reservoir to boil the water alongside other water treatment facilities required to produce 100% drinkable water.
A consultant water and food Laboratory Expert who strictly refused to give his name alleged that several effort he had made to commence comprehensive, affordable water test for the producers of this universal solvent possibly in collaboration with National Agency for Food/Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had been frustrated by both NAFDAC officials and some key players in the water producing industry.
The consultant, who claimed he runs a food and water Laboratory company in the state agreed with Nigerian Newsguide findings but however noted that a few water producing companies in Owerri are actually decent and wonderful in hygiene protocol, as such produce drinkable and wholesome water that give and sustain life.
Our findings further revealed that regular checks and certification ordinarily done by NAFDAC at regular intervals have become a thing of the past as its officials allegedly collects graft from table and sachet water producers to evade routine checks.
Another issue unraveled in the course of the survey was the fact that 95% of all table and sachet water produced in Imo have no alkaline and usually have a very bad taste due to the low quality of nylon bags and plastic containers used in packaging the water to the extent that a lot of taste as if raw chemicals were infused in them.
The survey also indicated that both Eva water and Mangero water that were hitherto ahead of others in terms of quality and originality are now massively adulterated by greedy and wicked water merchants all in a bid to make money at all cost to the detriment of the innocent masses who take water severally each new day.
Speaking to our Reporter on this development a medical Doctor and pro-life activist Dr. Jude Ohanele heaped the whole blame on the government, noting that it was wrong in the first instance for the government to abandon public water management and reticulation, leaving the masses at the mercy of borehole owners.
Ohanele also indicted NAFDAC by insisting that almost every sachet or table water you find in any location has NAFDAC number.
“The question becomes who gives NAFDAC number to these water producers and how are they regulated? Government and NAFDAC must collaborate to come up with a clear road map on how to ensure that the musses are protected and meant to drink safe and portable water at all times”
“I am not suggesting a punitive measure against those that actually produce and release unsafe water to the market because absence of water on its own is a disaster, I am suggesting a holistic approach towards sanitizing the water production sub-sector such that those who engage in producing unwholesome water for sale must be reprimanded and made to do good or be quietly shown the way out. Here capacity building in this critical sub-sector is a better way out and only the government and NAFDAC have the powers to do so”
Efforts to speak with NAFDAC on the subject matter proved abortive as at the time of this report yielded no result but Chairman Association of Table Water Producers (ATWAP) Imo State, Mr. Frandy Chinedu Ahamefule countered the report, adding that 95% is outrageous and out of place in the first instance. “It depends on the parameter for the survey, there is World Health Organization (WHO) standard and Nigerian standard too in water test. Nigerian standard is almost the same thing with WHO and you know water test is not ordinary laboratory test. In Imo here, the equipments required to run such lab are scarce and that is why I wonder how the survey arrived at 95%?
The ATWAP Chairman agreed however that some individuals are in the industry to cut corners hence producing unsafe water but noted that a number of his members were strictly abiding by the laid down ethics and NAFDAC standards governing Table and sachet water production. “What we have here is unhealthy price competition instead of quality competition. People compete to sell at low price because pure water is a product of poverty alleviation in Nigeria. The cost of producing a bag of pure water is more than 100 Naira but we still sell at that amount but you find out that in some places, producers sell a bag at 60 Naira. Such producers that sell at 60 Naira are the ones actually producing unsafe and undrinkable water”.