Health risks of illegal abattoirs, slaughter slabs
• As Lagos Govt Arrests 24 Butchers, Cattle Marketers
• Set To Remove Shanties At Oko Oba Abattoir
Despite series of campaigns for improved operations and promotion of healthy environment for meat business in Lagos State, government appears to be losing the war, with unwholesome methods of slaughtering animals across the state still on the rise.
Most worrisome is the escalating number of illegal slaughter slabs sprouting across the state and the new method of using frontage of food centers as slaughter slabs, which has become commonplace.
Health experts have linked this to the spread of diseases, environmental pollution and health hazards, making the state unsafe for unsuspecting meat buyers and inhabitants.
During the last administration, officials of the ministry of agriculture, in conjunction with the Task Force raided illegal slaughter slabs in Ketu, Owode and Ikorodu area of the state, where some of the operators were apprehended. Since that raid, The Guardian learnt it has been business as usual, as the slaughter slabs have since opened for business, putting unsuspecting buyers at serious health risk.
In one of the slaughter slabs, located in Ketu area, The Guardian observed that a large chunk of the unwholesome meat was processed with dirty, stagnant water.
One other thing was that all aspects of the meat processing, especially in the area of sanitation, slaughtering facilities, handling and movement, is far from the stipulated meat processing standard.
Heaps of animal wastes-faeces, bones and others have constituted serious health risk as stench emanating from the wastes, coupled with the flies hovering over the slabs are enough to cause an epidemic.
A visit to the Oko Oba abattoir last week showed that even the abattoir is far from the dream of government. Several acts from the process of slaughtering to transporting of the meat constitute serious disregard for standard hygienic abattoir condition.
One of the things gradually becoming an eyesore is the growth of shanties within the abattoir. Even at the main slaughter points, meat is still displayed on bare floor, as buyers move meat in nylons and containers.
Last January, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Oluwatoyin Suarau, inaugurated an enforcement unit, in order to “develop, restructure and sanitise abattoirs and slaughter slabs in the state for improved operations and promote a healthy environment for red meat business.”
The aim was to ensure that products from abattoirs and slaughter slabs meet the global quality, safety and compliance requirements.
He said; “the responsibilities of the unit will include monitoring of abattoirs and slaughter slabs, dislodgement of illegal ones, monitoring and enforcing laws on transportation of meat and live cattle, control of stray animals and mobilisation and enlightenment of private veterinary premises in the state.”
Early February, the unit commenced its operation with the clampdown on illegal abattoirs, slaughter slabs and cattle markets in Ikorodu and Badagry areas, with the arrest of 24 butchers and cattle marketers. Processed meat and live cattle were also impounded during the raid.
According to the commissioner; “10 butchers were arrested from illegal abattoirs by the enforcement team in Owutu, Ikorodu, while 14 butchers and marketers were arrested in the Badagry axis. The operation in the Badagry axis, affected illegal slaughter slabs at Seme J5 Zongo, Iya Afin and Ajara; and illegal animal markets at Iberekodo, Limka and Tollgate,” he said.
To ensure effective abattoir management, over 400 butchers and live cattle dealers, drawn from various parts of the state were trained by the state government in February on current trends in abattoir management.
The 3-day training programme, centered on the standard operating procedures in abattoir was part of the ongoing reformation in the Red meat Value Chain.
At the training, the commissioner said government would be sponsoring some butchers, live cattle dealers and other stakeholders on a study tour of Kenya and Botswana Red Meat Industry.
“The aim of the tour then was to expose the butchers to the international standard of operation in the industry towards improving the hygiene status in all the approved abattoirs and slaughter slabs in the state and to ensure wholesomeness in the meat that is locally consumed,” Suarau said.
Just last Tuesday, the ministry disclosed its readiness to remove all shanties at Oko Oba abattoir and lairage complex, to give the abattoir a befitting mega city status the market deserves.
According to a statement signed by the Asstistant Director, Public Affairs of the Agric ministry, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, government’s motive is to improve the hygienic condition of the market and not to witch-hunt anyone.
Suarau added that the removal of the shanties will commence any time from now, noting that all occupants should ensure they vacate with all their valuables and move to the lairage complex temporarily for their activities, pending the completion of the project.