UNSUSPECTING travellers to and from South Africa are being exposed to waterborne diseases as many of them are buying unsealed drinking water from vendors who frequent a popular service station in Masvingo.
By HAZVINEI MWANAKA
Most cross-border buses make a stopover at the service station to allow passengers to buy refreshments, but the place has also been invaded by unlicensed vendors.
A snap survey by NewsDay revealed that the mineral water bottle plastic containers were poorly secured and dirty, a clear indication that they had been recycled.
Some of the bottles had no labels and others had different lids from the containers. Vendors interviewed admitted that the bottles were unsealed and the water was drawn from taps but they have to do that to earn a living.
“We re-use different bottles that we also get from other people who collect them at different places especially at food outlets,” said one woman in her mid-thirties .
Since their water is normally frozen, travellers were easily lured to buy them to quench thirst from the sweltering heat.
“We only do this to earn a living, our prices are just the same as the sealed water, a 500ml bottle goes for 5 rand,” she said.
“In a scenario that a consumer finds that the bottle is unsealed,” added the woman, “we either give them back their money or we can give them a sealed one.”
One resident, Edmore Tura who resides in Rujeko B, said what the vendors were doing was dangerous and unethical.
“That is quite disturbing, we now fear for our lives. How do we know that the water is from taps? Besides let’s say the taps have run dry for some weeks, they will end up drawing water from unprotected sources like rivers,” Tura said.
Masvingo mayor Hubert Fidze said the city’s tap water was not for commercial use.
“With our water there is no problem, our worry is the bottling of the water when they use those bottles for packaging, otherwise they are posing a bad image for our town,” Fidze said.
“What might happen is that one might get sick because of the containers that would have been used, and later reports will be Masvingo water is not suitable to drink which is untrue, we do not want to be associated with a bad image so I will engage the health department to monitor the situation.”
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said all drinking water should meet the Standards Association requirements.
“Actually, we are not aware of that, I will inform our offices there in Masvingo to verify the situation. The consumers must be aware of the things they buy, we therefore call upon the city council responsible to go around and look out for these activities,” she said.
Masvingo provincial medical director Dr Robert Mudyiradima said: “What they are doing is a bad practice, water has to be purified and sealed, it is a health risk to consumers,” he said.