as GSA, FDA begin aggressive campaign
The illegal production of water in sachets, popularly called pure water, persists unabated in the North, as unscrupulous persons continue their production under unhygienic conditions.
This is done in a bid to evade standardisation requirements and tax obligations and is consequently putting consumers of some brands of sachet water at risk of a number of diseases, an investigation by the B&FT’s Northern Regional correspondent has revealed.
Some of these operators, according to the investigation, are producing without equipment calibrated by the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), with a host of them making use of fake stamps, whilst others are not registered as businesses. This development has led the Standards Authority to ask consumers to be cautious of what brands they patronise, as it begins an aggressive campaign against these illegal operators.
The investigation further revealed that most of these operators bagged the water directly from the pumps, and in some instances, broken pipes, without the use of any protective gear. This is further worsened by the equally unsanitary conditions in which the water was transported and stored for sale.
The worst perpetrators were found in communal compound houses, often at night and with poor drainage systems in Tamale, Wa, and Bolgatanga in the Northern, Upper West, and Upper East regions respectively.
Other sources revealed that a number of operators are able to continue in business as they convey with leaders – traditional, religious, and political – allowing them to be pardoned, even in the unlikely instances when they are apprehended. This, one of sthe source noted, has compounded the challenges regulatory bodies such as the GSA, FDA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the assemblies, face in ensuring sanity.
This is all the more alarming, seeing that 93.1% of respondents, who this correspondent interacted with, admitted using most of these brands of sachet water over other sources such as tap water, bottled water, and stream water.
The Northern Regional Manager for the Ghana Standard Authority, James Wanaba, in a response to the issue, expressed worry at the rate many operators of sachet water in the Northern Belt continue to hide to operate illegally to the detriment of consumers.
“We are aware of many efforts that have been made to prevent them from operating without the machines and the premises being certified. Though we go round for routine inspections, many operate at night and in hideout areas making it difficult for the authority to identify them,” he said.
He noted that his outfit has been embarking on awareness creation on the need for the vendors to keep their shelves from the sun, saying that exposure of the water in the sachet to the harmful rays of the sun adds to the health risks faced by the consumers.
Some residents of Tamale, in interviews, expressed worry at the way sachet water is handled in the region and therefore called on the government and the regulatory bodies to take steps to ensure the implementation of the laws, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic period to curb the spread of diseases.
“This is the time we need to drink clean water but if some would take advantage of us to sell untreated water, they need to be identified and punished to serve as a deterrent to others,” Nathaniel Bonsu, a resident of Tamale said. He added that he has resorted to purchasing water depots of the certified sachet water producers in the region because he and his family are cautious of their health.