Ndola — FROM the time local companies ventured into the manufacturing of bottled water sometime back, very few people really believed that it could be sustained in the manner that it has performed so far.
In fact it was rather taboo for Zambians to buy water in the way they were doing today, in other words, the whole affair appeared too strange to many locals anyway.
These were times when the world was being treated to a population of Africans in some places of the Sudan, where the international press carried bizzare pictures of people dying due to the lack of both water and food.
There were some very strange stories that people in Zambia never at all came to grips with about the sale of water.
And this was in whatever form especially that the commodity in some parts of East Africa was being sold at a very expensive price for the size of a cup of tea.
Now of course, when firms like Natural Valley started manufacturing the product, not many then thought they could succeed the way the company has been able to accomplish the trade anyway.
So really, it could not be very far fetched if we simply accorded Manzi Valley with the top water prize for being the pioneers in this kind of business.
Today, Manzi Valley is all over the places not only for its refined and purified product but for the kind of water which can just not be equalled by some of those claiming to be doing the same, and they are many.
In fact if there happens to be any bottled water firm that has come to be known even internationally, that's Manzi Valley.
Unlike the other firms trading in the water affairs, Manzi Valley has combined business with pleasure as they are the sponsors of the 'Manzi Therapy' programme on Radio Phoneix which features Dr Francis Manda every Saturday morning.
This I believe is a community based programme as it helps members of the community to have some of their medical questions attended to on the air.
And I wish to understand that this is not the only community outlook project aimed for the members of the public as it could be possible that there might be chances for many other programmes that will be tackled in the forthcoming water articles.
But it is therefore, disturbing to hear that there were people bent at wrecking the good things that Manzi Valley had laid out in the water world through imitations of their product.
Some local Zambian market 'tycoons' have taken advantage of the clean natural water currently in very high demand to move in and rock the market with their inferior makes.
Speaking recently in an interview, Manzi Valley company director Stewart Simpson said he was worried as the imitations were aimed at destabilising the thriving market which his firm was associated with.
Mr Simpson said there were reports of some unscrupulous dealers who have been imitating the Manzi brand of mineral water hence the need for authorities to move in and stop the vice.
He complained that the culprits have been passing fake Manzi mineral water products for a long time now.
"These people need to be brought to book and be dealt with firmly since they were tarnishing the image of our Manzi Valley company."
And for the company to nip the vice in the bud, Manzi Valley has acquired new equipment to be deployed in the packaging processes to eliminate imitation from these dealers.
The company has invested in equipment worth over K2 billion and staff sent abroad would be trained on how to use the new machinery.
And Manzi Valley sales and marketing director Paul Bore was this week on the Copperbelt to spearhead the opening of new offices to serve the region in Kitwe.
Mr Bore confirmed the opening of new offices which would service the Copperbelt to the Times of Zambia in Kitwe yesterday.
"Our Kitwe office will also cater for the entire Copperbelt including Solwezi in the North-Western Province and I would like to appeal to all customers to utilise the offices fully as they are meant for them," he said.
He further revealed that there appeared to be a lot of cheating among the water producers some of whom were imitating the company brand and called on the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZBS) to ensure this practice was stopped at once.
"All of us in the water industry should adhere to laid out standards which would afford the firms a level playing field and help safeguard the health of the people in the country.
"The main challenges that Manzi Valley happen to be faced with are the resolve to serve quality water to clients right from the surveyed geological underground waterfalls at Chongwe," he said.
Mr Bore said clients were free to inspect the water source for them to appreciate the company's works before they could render their support by buying the Manzi Valley product.
Now that's a million dollar challenge, any takers?