This is not news: Eight out of 10 Metro Manilans do not drink water from the tap.
This is the fear: Those eight persons think MWSS-sourced water is not totally clean.
This is the reality: Numerous water refilling stations have sprung up, unregulated, to “fill the need” for potable and, yes, portable water.
This is the question: How many of them sell clean water in clean containers, honestly?
This is the business opportunity: Manila Water, one of the two concessionaires, is now selling water in 19-liter demijohns and partnering with entrepreneurs to deliver the product door to door.
This is the premise: Four plants manufacture the plastic bottles (with capacities ranging from 300 an hour to 3,000-plus). No part of the water or container is touched by human hands. The cap is for one-time use only.
This is the promise: For P40 the customer is assured of, ehem, Ayala quality. The partner-entrepreneur needs only P36,000 to start his business and begin delivering, pronto. (For now, most of the action is concentrated in Taguig, where the major plant is sited.)
This is the challenge: How will this spin-off affect the business of those little refilling stations whose bottles and caps should’ve been retired 50 customers ago, whose delivery boys look like they need new slippers and a haircut cum shower, whose containers are manually washed with detergent and stored in grimy corners infested with roaches and other scary creatures?
At the height of the troubles besetting the other water concessionaire, like prolonged service interruptions, Manila Water held a series of press conferences to announce their “Healthy Family” solution, as if to rub water into an open wound. Not quite, said their media man, “We’ve been doing this for months now.”
Okay, Jeric Sevilla, is your rivalry water under the bridge now? Has the situation become more fluid?