OVER 96 WATER COMPANIES IN SUBSTANDARD PRODUCTION
BY MUSTAPHA SESAY
As the world observes World Water Day, a lot of issues affecting the water sector in various parts of the country are being discussed and solutions advanced as to how to ensure that people, mostly the deprived and marginalized, have access to affordable water in their communities.
Due to the importance of water in our daily activities, much prominence is being accorded to this sector to ensure that it is preserved and sustained to meet the demands of the users.
Taking this aspect into consideration, March 22nd has been set aside as World Water Day, and with a host of panel discussions on the international scene, and presentations on the status of water, the challenges, and the way forward.
In developing countries while the Governments and development partners are striving to ensure that people are accorded pure water , it is becoming a matter of fact that private water companies are infiltrating the water sector to produce substandard water that are sold to the public.
Based on the fact that effective monitoring mechanisms are not in place for staff to go round the country and take a closer look at the environment or equipment and labourers processing these packet water, some of the private water company operators are more interested in the money derived from their sales rather that the quality of the product reaching the consumers.
In Sierra Leone, there has been a lot of reports from the public that some of the private water companies were producing substandard water that contained particles or stink.
Despite all these stories not much has been done as new private water companies continue to emerge without going through the correct registration process.
In towns and villages, it is now common to hear of people with just a single room and palour embarking on the sale of packeted water to the public. This is so as majority of the masses are now in higher demand of packeted water rather than pipe borne or dug out well water.
This ugly situation reached its climax early March, 2016 when the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau published its findings on the status of private water companies operating in the country.
In a press release issued to the public, it was noted with dismay that when a test was carried out by this body on the quality of the water product sold to the public by a total number of over one hundred and sixteen private water companies operating in the city of Freetown only twenty of these water companies were satisfied to have met the standard requirements stipulated by the bureau for the sale of packeted water to the public.
This dismal situation is very alarming especially when the findings is only for the capital city where many are of the view that effective monitoring should have been put in place.
Today, some of these questions are making the rounds as to why private water companies continue to put the lives of millions at risk by selling substandard water to the public.
What punitive measures are to be instituted against these companies embarking on these criminal activities?
What modalities will be speedily put in place to halt further production of dirty and stinky water, not only for the city of Freetown but also in the provincial towns.
According to Mr. Lansana Kamara, a senior civil servant, the scarcity of pure and affordable water during the dry season is not a reason for private water companies to exploit the masses with fake water product.
He furthered that the Sierra Leone Standard Bureaus, the Electricity and Water Regulation Commission and the Sierra Leone Police intensify their monitoring activities to arrest this situation.
As a way of addressing this issue, the Electricity and Water Regulation Commission on 9th March,2016 issued a press release in various media houses with the title ‘ORDER TO CEASE AND WITHDRAW FROM PRODUCING UNCLEAN WATER’
The release states that the Commission is hereby demanding that the under listed water producing companies cease production and withdraw all products from the market nationwide and with immediate effect.
The release furthered that the company should resume production after the water quality should have been reassessed and certified by the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau and their status regulated as a water producing entity after being licensed by the Commission.
As a warning to these private water companies producing substandard water for the public, it was noted that any action on the part of the these companies which is contrary to the directives above will face the full penalty of the Law as stipulated in Section 65 of the Sierra Leone Electricity and Water Regulation Commission Act of 2011.
Notwithstanding this stance of the Commission, the sale of these substandard water products by various private water companies in the market continues. It is a matter of time to know how this Commission will change the quality of water sold to the public. SEE DOCUMENT BELOW