Unhygienic State of Lagos Abattoirs

In spite of the new laws, butchers in Lagos State still transport meat through unhygienic means while abattoirs in the state have become eyesores

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Nov. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

DESPITE the efforts of the government to improve hygiene in Lagos, most abattoirs in the state are filthy. Earlier this year, the government made a new law to check the way meat is being transported in the state and the hygienic state of the environment where the animals are being slaughtered. It followed that by setting up a task-force to arrest people who use motorcycles, wheelbarrows and other unhygienic means to transport meat in the state. The provision of the new law disallows anyone to convey meat from the abattoir to any part of the state except in Eko Meat Vans.

But a visit to some of the abattoirs shows that nothing has changed. When Realnews visited some of the abattoirs, Agege and Igando, it observed that the level of compliance with government’s approved standards was very poor. Although beef was seen being transported in meat vans, some people still carried meat on their heads,  shoulders, in unwholesome sacks, nylons and dirty carts while some put them on motorcycles, contrary to the new law.

Agege Abattoir
Agege Abattoir

There were no sanitary inspectors on ground to ensure compliance with government’s directive. To make the matter worse, the entire environment of the abattoirs was filthy, while the butchers disposed of wastes and animal by-products in open spaces, indiscriminately. Gbolahan Lawal, commissioner for agriculture and cooperatives in the state, has admitted that some measure of carelessness is responsible for the unpleasant state of the abattoirs in the state and has consequently unfolded plans to do a major fixing of the facility. He explained that the approach became imperative because of the manner in which meat handlers and butchers conduct themselves despite series of sensitisation campaigns organised for them by the government. He said some of the ongoing steps, employed include shifting of the heap of garbage within the abattoir.

Lawal expressed total dissatisfaction with the dirty condition prevailing in the abattoirs, saying the abattoir has the capacity to slaughter about 2,000 animals daily. He lamented that the abattoirs hardly get 200 cows to slaughter in a week. The commissioner noted that the state government would find a way to sanitise all the abattoirs to ensure that they work at full capacity. He lamented that the butchers hardly utilise the mechanised slaughtering facility at the Agege abattoir, but assured the residents that the government was working on ways to address the problem of the offensive odour that emanates from the abattoir.

Moshood Bello-Olusanya, managing director, Harmony Abattoir Management Services Limited, who raised a similar complaint, accused the butchers of preferring the slaughter slabs to the well equipped modern slaughter facility put in place by the government. Reports say the butchers avoid the modern slaughter facilities because it attracts a fee of N2,500 while the alternative attracts N1,000.

It has also been reported that religion also played a role as the butchers feel the way the machine slaughters the cow runs contrary to their belief, adding that some of them even pray before slaughtering the cows. But on the contrary, Bello-Olusanya said slaughtering of animals as done by the local butchers is crude because it does not take into account the health implications, adding that meat produced under such conditions lacks veterinary inspection and stood the risk of becoming hazardous to human health.

Okada rider carrying goats
Okada rider carrying goats

He added that the government was doing its best to improve hygiene at the slaughter house, lamenting that despite the provision of the facilities, the butchers still preferred the less dignifying alternative. “Disposal of the left-over by-products of the process, known as offal, is an additional challenge for those using the slaughter slabs,” he said. Meanwhile, Lagos State House of Assembly earlier this month condemned the filthy environment of the Oko-Oba abattoir in Lagos. The House said that it was unhealthy and that consumption of meat from the place could result in a outbreak of diseases or an epidemic.

This was one of the findings of the report of the 4-man ad hoc committee on the modalities for the creation of an agency to oversee matters concerning veterinary services in the state and for effective performances and better service delivery. While presenting the report, Abdurrzaq Balogun said, the committee discovered that the animal hospital in Oko-Oba was underfunded and lacked the necessary equipment needed for a hospital of its nature. According to the report, from the data made available to the committee, Balogun explained that no fewer than 4,000 cattle, 10,000 sheep and goats, 500 pigs and 10 camels were being slaughtered daily at the abattoir and other slaughter slabs in the state. The committee observed that relevant committee of the House should prepare a draft Bill for an enabling law to put the necessary machinery and structure in place for the animal health agency.

It also recommended that veterinary services and animal health agency should be set up by the state government. The report recommended that “the said draft Bill should also put up a better and more functional administrative structure in place to actualise the objectives of the bill on veterinary services of the State. The veterinary agency to be established shall ensure that only qualified veterinary officers (doctors) and other qualified animal health workers are employed for veterinary services in the State. More enlightenment campaigns should be put in place to showcase the importance of veterinary services to enhance their service delivery.”

One thought on “Unhygienic State of Lagos Abattoirs

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