The Lagos State House of Assembly, Southwest Nigeria, has ordered the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to quickly rise up against the recent proliferation of illegal abattoirs in order to avert epidemic in the state.
The state government had between 2008 and 2009 introduced policies that would improve operation of abattoirs in the state as well as regulate the activities on meat vendors.
As a result of this, vehicles were provided for effective distribution of meat and cleanliness among the butchers and meat sellers in the state.
The government also made sure that some abattoirs were registered in the state.
However, three years down the line and as a result of the perceived lack of strict monitoring of the butchers, meat sellers and their activities, illegal abattoirs have sprung up in different parts of the state.
It is also common to see meat sellers conveying meat in sacks, motorcycles and wheelbarrows against the laws of the state.
Not happy with the situation, the lawmakers also called on the governor to direct the state Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives as well as the state Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit to immediately stop the operations of these illegal abattoirs and the activities of stakeholders in the meat selling business using such illegal abattoirs.
The lawmakers said they were aware that these days, livestock and processed meat were being smuggled into the state from neighbouring states.
While raising fears of the consequence of unhygienic animal and products handling by these illegal butchers and meat sellers, the lawmakers reminded the governor that the health of residents of the state should be uppermost in governance of the state and as a result, the state officials must enforce the laws guiding the abattoirs in the state.
The concern of the assemblymen was first raised in a motion titled: ‘Proliferation of Illegal Abattoirs and Unwholesome Meat Processing in Lagos State,’ and moved by the member of the House representing Ajeromi/Ifelodun Constituency 2, Abdoulbaq Balogun.
Balogun told his colleagues that these illegal abattoir operators also use poor lairages in various parts of the state and that their activities were contrary to the provision of Section 3 of the Meat Animal Traffic, Trading and Slaughtering Law, 1993 which stipulates that, “no person shall slaughter any cattle which is intended for sale or dress the carcass in any place within Lagos metropolis other than at the abattoir.”
Lairages are animal handling facilities at abattoirs including loading ramps, laneways, branding and injection chutes, weigh-scales, holding pens, drafting races, covered housing, waterpoints and feed bunkers.
The lawmaker stressed that Section 3 of the law further stated that, “a veterinary officer may, at all reasonable hours inspect any meat exposed for sale or deposited in any place for the purpose of sale or preparation for sale and intended for human consumption and any such meat found by the veterinary officer to be unwholesome or unfit for human consumption, shall be condemned by him and disposed of in such manner as he may approve provided that such meat is prevented from being used as food for man.”
Another member of the House, Omotayo Aramide Oduntan, confirmed that some of the meat vendors operated from Ogun state which has no such regulations like Lagos state.
She urged the state government to urgently find solutions to the problems already being created by these unwholesome acts.
Others who contributed to the issue noted that the meat from these illegal abattoirs are even transported to the market or end users using unapproved mode of transportation like motorbikes, tricycles, cart and filthy cabs against the provision of the Meat Hygienic Regulations (LSLN 3 of 1992).
They lamented that meat sellers now preferred these short corners to using the approved abattoirs in Oko-Oba, Agege and other legal ones in the state.
They all agreed that only urgent steps by the government could frustrate these illegal butchers and sellers.