27 January 2017

Liberia: Looming Health Hazards - the Case of Mineral Water Companies in Liberia

This paper has reliably gathered that if nothing is quickly done by relevant government entities in Liberia to inspect various mineral water factories in the country, large portion of the population will soon fall prey to cholera and other preventable diseases.

Our health reporter who is currently inspecting various mineral water factories has gathered that most of the mineral water factories are environmentally unfriendly, which he says if nothing is done fast, it would result into outbreak of aquatic ailments.

Our reporter has earlier visited Pure View Mineral Water Company, Super T Spring Aqua among others. Some of the mineral water facilities also visited includes the Liberia Aquatic Solution (LAS) in New Georgia, Lelee Natural Mineral Water Incorporated in Tusa Field community among others.

Liberia Aquatic Solution or LAS

At LAS, our reporter who was briefed by a 22 year-old man, Borbor Ngaima, that his father Dr. Samuel Ngaima is the proprietor of the business, but he gave a telephone number that has never been on since then.

Borbor Ngaima informed this paper that the source of water for the mineral water company is an old hand pump right in the yard where the company operates. "We live here in the yard. We can get the water from the water well to produce the water. Our production starts at night," Borbor Ngaima said.

According to our health reporter who toured the yard, it has latrine, pipes leading to the septic tanks, dirt piled up in the yard that is used for production. The yard is also used as a dwelling place. Meanwhile, efforts to contact Dr. Ngaima proved fruitless as the telephone numbers provided by Borbor Ngaima has perpetually been switched off.

Lelee Natural Mineral Water Incorporated

Another mineral water in Tusa Field community in New Georgia is operating a lone machine and water well as the only source for water in the production according to a gentleman who only identified himself as 'Jeremiah'.

Jeremiah defended that they are using the water well because it was approved by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He indicated that the well is about 120 feet deep as required by those ministries.

However, our reporter observed that the company doesn't have a service name anywhere near where it operates. When asked for the proprietor, Madam Mariama Massalay, Jeremiah and a lady in the yard informed our reporter that they have strict mandate not to disclose her number or any document to the press.

Recently, there have been series of complains from the consuming public that some of the water on the market have irritating odors, unregistered companies and selling at will with total disregard to the government's price of L$75.00 per sac.

Water Producers

When contacted, the Secretary General of the Liberia Water Producers Association, Loseney A. Jabateh told this paper that the association is faced with series of challenges.

Jabateh further indicated that there are over 482 water producing companies in the country, but they have been told that only 82 of them are legally registered.

He also added that as per their record, over 250 are registered. Regarding the 'embarrassing environmental conditions', Jabateh confirmed that some of the companies' facilities are not of standard and warned those involved to take note.

Ministry of Commerce

According to the Ministry of Commerce administrative regulation circulated November 2016 regarding commercialization of packed-drinking water on the local market of Liberia, all packaged water shall be packaged in a manner that protects and preserves composition, quality, purity, hygiene and safety of the product from harmful contamination.

CODEX Standard For Natural Mineral Waters

According to section 3.1 of the CODEX Standard for natural mineral waters especially in premises and rooms, where containers are exposed to the external environment especially prior to filling and sealing, specific preventive measures should be incorporated into the facility's design to avoid contamination of the containers used for bottled water.

Section 3.2.1 on water supply says water intended for bottling should be carried in completely separate lines from water not intended for bottling. These lines should be identified, preferably by different colors. There must be no cross-connections.

No waters intended for bottling should be accepted by an establishment if it is known to contain pathogens or excessive residues of pesticides or other toxic substances.

4.1 of Codex says drinking water systems, intended for bottling should meet all public drinking water standards including chemical, microbiological, physical, radiological established by the official authority having jurisdiction.

C O D E X, in collaboration with WHO is about safe, good food for everyone - everywhere.

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