By Fatima Muraina
For some decades, Nigerians have become fixated on cow meat among others. It is the most favoured at parties; no matter how big or small. Over 90 percent of parties will witness slaughtering of cows.
Households too consume lots of cow meat which makes meat sellers to dot every corner and take in huge profits at the end of the day’s sales. Other types of meat take a far second in terms of popularity and patronage.
The influx of many into the beef selling has diminished the quality as many of the meat sellers now sell cow meat at poor state of hygiene. The taste, smell and texture will expose these terrible meat once it is cooked.
In this vein, The Hope takes a look at the slaughtering houses in the Akure metropolis.
A slaughtering house otherwise known as abattoir is saddled with the responsibility of processing of wholesome meat for human consumption.
The provision of wholesome and hygienic meat among majority of other reasons led to the establishment of a modern abattoir by many states and countries.
This is because the animals are subjected to laboratory test before and after slaughtering to certify them safe for consumption.
Ondo State governments’ intention of establishing an abattoir also aimed at making it a central slaughtering house where every animal to be consumed is slaughtered in the facility.
This effort seems to have been truncated as only very few set of butchers patronise the abattoir, leaving majority of others in the open market and at some strategic areas, processing animals under unhygienic conditions which threaten human health and the environment in general.
Some unhealthy cattle processed under unhygienic situation usually find their way into the open market, thereby causing hazards to the people.
While on a field trip to some slaughtering centers in Akure, butchers showed dissatisfaction with government’s inability to effect its decision that every cattle butcher should operate at the central processing center.
The Chairman, Zone B Butchers Association at the Semi Mechanised Abattoir along Ado road, Mr Mudasiru Adelani urged consumers to be careful of where they purchase their meat especially ‘Jakky’ or ‘Kundi’ which he said is not even consumed by the northerners who are the producers.
He expressed concern at the slaughtering of animals outside the abattoir which he said might not undergo any test, adding that the environment is often dirty.
According to him, Veterinary Doctors are always on ground at the Semi Mechanised Abattoir to guarantee the wholesomeness of the meat processed there.
The Consultant in care of the abattoir who spoke through Mrs Bukola Obanigba expressed the Management’s effort in establishing a task force to arrest unwholesome activities which she said became fruitless as those in question were not apprehended.
” We have veterinary officers here who check and test the animals before and after killing. This is so that any cattle not certified for consumption are buried and not allowed to be taken outside the abattoir. We have a specified place where we bury them.
“We have a laboratory for testing. Everything here is well organized and it is only healthy matured animals that are processed into meat here,” she further stated.
According to her, the payment rate at the abattoir is fixed and affordable and wondered why those operating outside refused to patronise the facility.
“We only collect fee for the maintenance of the abattoir, there are water provision, utilization of the equipment in processing the cattle,” she said.
Speaking on the general situation of some slaughtering centres in the state, the state Director of Veterinary, Dr. Adebayo Ehinmowo described the slaughtering slab points as poor, adding that majority of them operate privately and do not measure up to standard.
He explained that the various points of slaughtering are not abattoir but just a slaughtering slab because there is a criteria to meet in terms of equipment and others to be classified as an abattoir.
“The environmental situation in many of these places is appalling because the environmental officers could no longer make meaningful visitation to the sites.
“In the past, environmental officers do come for sanitation and do the cleaning but these are no longer feasible due to lack of staff ,” he said.
He expressed the urgent need for government to employ more environmental staff and veterinary officers as many have retired which has started affecting the environmental condition of the slaughtering slabs and the state in general.
He said the idea of government encouraging all butchers to come into the semi mechanised abattoir was fruitless because the law through a court proceeding permits those operating outside to do so.
A Corps member, serving at the veterinary department of the state Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Edor Solomon described the condition of Good Slaughtering Slab at Oluwatuyi as fair, though not perfect, saying that there is no way it could meet up to standard of an abattoir.
Solomon said the operational activities of a slaughter slab are limited when compared to the semi mechanised abattoir of the state government.
” The inspection here is done to ensure things are done properly. We inspect the lungs , the meat in wholesome form while the number of animals slaughtered at the abattoir is of large quantity .
“Ours is confined and straight forward examination but we do not allow unwholesome meat to get out of the station. We ensure that the meats are perfect for consumption in spite of the limitations around, “ he said.
He applauded workers at the site for adhering to instructions and advised them to cover their meat to avoid flies perching on them which is unhygienic .
An environmentalist, A Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr Kinga Olumide called on the public to report all cases of environmental hazards to the environmental head for quick action as he declared that the environment ministry is short staffed and not adequate to visit over 60 slaughtering slabs in the state.
He said the state has standard operational practices for meat sellers and advised them on adhering to it or be apprehended to face the consequences of not abiding by the rules.
According to him, the environmental officers have the right to confiscate unwholesome meats and prosecute defaulting meat sellers who are found wanting .
King a stated that a slaughtering slab was sealed for poor operations two months ago following nefarious activities that constituted threat to the environment.
He said that meat to be consumed must be screened to ensure hygiene, saying that the environment where fresh meat and food are prepared is supposed to be hygienic in order to avoid any case of pandemic.
In its determination to curb the menace of the supply of unwholesome meat into the market, the Ondo State government established a semi mechanised abbatoir at Sango area along the Ado Road Akure.
A visit by The Hope reporter showed that the abbatoir conformed with the international best practices with sections like the Slaughter Hall, Lairage, Office Complex, Public Toilet, Bone Yard, Manure Dump, Incinerator, Underground Water Reservoir, Fence, Gate-House, Generator House as well as Laboratory Equipment and Reagents.
There is an Effluent Waste Disposing Truck, a 500KVA transformer, a 60KVA sound proof generator and a borehole with an overhead tank for water supply.
These are further provided to ensure sustainable provision of wholesome meat to the citizens.
The abattoir with the capacity to process 200 heads of cattle in four hours is under utilized.
Investigation revealed that governments’ intention to discourage slaughtering outside the designated abbatoir was truncated following the court ruling which overruled government’s intention, thus it could not carry out such enforcement drive but gave approval to only two slaughtering slabs.
Tope slaughtering slab by Kayode House along Oluwatuyi road, Akure, is a privately owned slab but has its operations monitored by the government’s official from both the veterinary section of the State Ministry of Agriculture and the ministry of environment .
The slaughtering house has a drainage facility where animal’s refuse are disposed, a slaughtering slab with ties and the house where cows are kept waiting to be slaughtered.
Veterinary doctors and environmental officers visit the site for inspection to ensure that only quality meat are processed for consumption.
Some meat sellers were seen at the slab displaying their meat for sale while many were seen taking away parts of slaughtered cow to be sold at meat shop.
The slab which could be called a meat shop is clean and looks very tidy unlike what it used to be when they practised traditional method of slaughtering which stinks and makes the environment very dirty.
“The condition is fair here and they have a good drainage system but it can never be measurable to that of the Semi Mechanised Abattoir of the state government,” a Veterinary doctor, Dr. Edor Solomon declared..
A director from the Ondo state Ministry of environment had disclosed that the slaughter slab was closed down few months ago for not meeting the quality standard but got reopened few months ago and have been doing well.
That would probably account for the good shape and clean environment of the slaughter slab.
At the Shasha slaughtering slab, the butchers who pleaded anonymity claimed that they get their cows slaughtered and processed at Sango before bringing the meat for sale.
No trace of slaughtering was seen when a visit was made but a vehicle was seen off loading slaughtered cow which might have been brought from a slaughtering house.
The meats were claimed by owners who later displayed them at their individual tables at the meat shop.
Reacting on the issue of immature meats being sold in Akure, a butcher, Mr Teslim Adewunmi fingered those that do not patronise slaughtering slab where veterinary doctors inspect every cow before and after slaughtering.
He said the butchers are of different factions and that they all have places where they sell their meat.
“We have the so called National Butchers Association at the semi mechanised abattoir of the Ondo state government, they do not allow those who are not their members to sell their meat at the Oja Oba market, even at Isikan market they do not allow those who are not their members to sell meat”.
He accused them of knowing those who are into nefarious activities of processing immature cows.
“We do not operate at the markets but at open places and the junction side. Let them speak on the issue,” he stated
According to Adewunmi, government gave approval to two slaughtering centers when there was power tussle on slaughtering process at the abattoir and people are afraid to patronise the outlet.
“It is compulsory to get your cow slaughtered at approved designated place like the abattoir and the slaughtering centers and we all have many people coming to slaughter their cows but the association of butchers are in faactions such that only the National Butchers man the Abattoir and has the right to sell at the open market like the Oja Oba,
“We are restricted from selling there but we sell at the shop stands in every angle. Though government gave us free access to butcher at the abattoir on payment of the required fees,” he stated.
According to him, the National butchers association believes that they have the markets and they know their members, hence they should be able to tell those selling immature cows at the market places.
Dr. Ehinmowo confirmed the approval given to the two slaughter houses whom he stated are adhering to the regulations of processing wholesome meat for the citizenry.
He claimed that all the meat sold in Akure and Ondo state in general are subject to laboratory test before and after slaughtering.
The director denied the slaughtering of immature cows for sale as claimed by some people.
“There is power tussle at the Abattoir where the executives of the butcher association will want to slaughter and proceeded as many cows as they want depriving others access to the same facility.”
He urged people to patronise the approved designated centers for slaughtering and should report those that may be selling immatured cows to the appropriate quarters.
Ehinmowo stated that his department has met it’s statutory responsibility of quality control and conformity with international best standards in the meat processing and delivery industry in the state.