Otapiapia: The other side of rapid killers

*Unregulated locally-made insecticides expose users to cancer, kidney damage, health experts warn

*They are faceless marketers with killer products – NAFDAC

WorldStage Newsonline– There is always a comedian side to the selling of ‘Otapiapia’ a variety of locally produced insecticides that are touted to instantly kill all types of inspects and creeping things around the house.  

The sellers that slipped between vehicles in Lagos traffic mostly in the evening could be dismissed as clowns with different brands of the products hanging at different parts of their bodies. Some will hold a roll of dead rats as practical testimonies of what their products will do the rodents at homes.

With dirty drainages and open refuse dumps across the roads, cockroaches and numerous rats have breeding havens in readiness to infiltrate even the most fortified homes, thereby creating ready market for Otapiapia.

This may explain why the rate at which sales of Otapiapia has become a common sight and serious business in many parts of Lagos State, the nation’s biggest commercial city, despite having adverse effects on the health of those that are regularly exposed to them.

Some concerned experts have warned that except urgent steps are taken by the government through relevant regulatory agencies, the unrestricted sale and indiscriminate use of locally-made insecticides may lead to widespread of cancer, kidney infection, and other ailments among residents.

Otapiapia seller

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has also shown concerns with its Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akinola lamenting the dangerous trend in the sales of Otapiapia, while urging the general public to work alongside the agency to sweep the streets of Nigeria of those he called “faceless marketers with killer products.”

These insecticides are mostly marketed in the evening at various bus stops, markets or pedestrian bridges, usually to residents who are returning from work. They are also sold along the streets, business places to residents who intentionally step out from their homes with the sole aim of purchasing the unlabeled products.

Some of the sellers told WorldStage with confidence that the locally made insecticides without NAFDAC registration number were effective at wiping out insects, mosquitoes and rodents than well-established brands of insecticides.

They claimed that the locally made insecticides were also more affordable compared with the more known brands.

While the producers of the locally made insecticides were not aware of the health implication of the chemicals they claimed to be riding the environment of rodents, physicians had strongly warned that the nation may be sitting on a keg of gunpowder if the illegal business should continue unchecked, saying that it would lead to a sudden surge in kidney related diseases and the spread of cancer.

A chemical scientist, Anchor University, Lagos, Agoro Kennedy said most of the locally made insecticides were derivatives of pyrethroid and pyretherin chemicals and other chemical components which when inappropriately mixed, particularly in high concentration were capable of damaging vital organs including the brain and the respiratory system.

Otapiapia seller

Some of the users of the locally made insecticides told WorldStage that they were effective and affordable. They also expressed ignorance of any health risk associated with their usage.

A 43-year-old trader, Mrs. Roseline Salami, told our correspondent that she had been using Otapiapia to kill mosquitoes, cockroaches and other insects at home for over five years because they were very affordable.

She said, “I live in a waterlogged area and so, mosquitoes are major problems here. Sometimes, I used to mix it with kerosene to make it stronger.

She said for the Otapiapia to kill rats, she used to mix it with Sniper (another popular insecticide), but few brands were strong enough to kill rats without adding Sniper.

Another user, Mrs. Sherifat Arowolo said she saw nothing wrong with the use of Otapiapia since they were efficient, affordable and readily available.

On efforts by the government to regulate the use of Otapiapia, the NAFDAC spokesman told WorldStage that: “On a regular basis, our enforcement directorate are always out there looking for those faceless marketers with killer products, and any time we get hold of those individuals, we do not hesitate to storm the place, seal it up and get them arrested and prosecuted.

Akinola said NAFDAC had been working tooth and nail on a regular basis to ensure that the streets of Nigeria were in paucity of those people who took it upon themselves to locally produce insecticide, because they were brandless, they had not been authenticated for use while some of them were very dangerous to the health.

He said, “I cannot say NAFDAC is not aware of those who are making them. That is why we always ask members of the public because NAFDAC cannot do it all alone. It is just like we are asking security operatives that, yes, they are the only people to ensure our security, it is a business of all and for everybody. That is why we always appeal to members of the public to speak up if they know anywhere they are operating, because we cannot be everywhere, and because these people that engage in this indiscriminate activities are not spirit – they are members of the public, they live amongst us so just let us know and you will see what happens next.”

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