Unscrupulous traders selling fake bottled water to unsuspecting residents.

You are warned that bottled water, besides quenching your thirst, could harm you.

According to statistics from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), over 60% of water and juices in the country's market are counterfeit.

The production and sale of spurious packaged drinking water has been on the rise with some people now doing it within their residential homes. This is the reason why everywhere you go there is abundance of ‘bottled water’, some of which sell for as little as Ksh. 20 for the 500ml bottle.

These illegal ‘factories’ do not have any proper manufacturing machines and testing facilities. All they need to do is to purchase used bottles from a recycling centers within town, name brand water bottles and then fill them with tap water.

Worse still, some of them fill the containers from boreholes which is potentially hazardous to their potential clients.

The most notorious areas for this trade are residential estates that have own compound such as Ngoingwa, Landless, Kisii and Kiganjo.

There those who use bottles and containers bearing the labels of big name companies whose brands are so popular in the country. The containers and the seals that they use to seal the bottle look identical to the genuine ones.

The bottles aren’t sterilized and the number of mold fungi and E.coli bacteria that have been found in such water can easily make drinkers sick. 

This is water that many of us drink every day, after all. Consumers are unaware that the water they are consuming is actually just tap or borehole water which can result in health issues.

The whole reason people pay extra money for bottled water is for the quality and safety. To the consumer, bottled water from a naturally occurring springs signifies purity and high quality and commands a premium price compared to filtered tap or borehole drinking water.

Unfortunately, most people can’t even tell the difference between bottled water and tap water by their tastes. Thus consumers have always ended up being deceived into buying and consuming tap water, some of which is unsafe for human consumption.

Packaged drinking water is in demand at functions such as weddings, seminars, etc. While some functions have ‘single-serving’ plastic containers, other functions prefer large containers with capacity of several litres. The bigger containers are also used in offices to dispense drinking water for employees.

A recent World Bank/IFC study detailing the bottled-water market in Kenya estimated sales at Sh12 billion per year.

The rampancy of fake water comes down to the inability of the government to enforce its own laws not forgetting the mealy-mouthed bureaucratic court processes that allows the perpetrators to go scot-free each time they are apprehended. It has also become a cash-cow for the police and the local administration who go to collect bribes and what is referred to as ‘protection fee’ from these unscrupulous people.

Last year, The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) suspended the licences of 369 water-bottling companies for non-compliance with quality standards. Tests that were carried out on the water they sold showed presence of coliform bacteria as a result of faecal contamination and poor hygiene standards.

CEO Charles Ongwae warned other water bottlers that they risk losing their licences if they fail to meet the set standards.

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