Olokodana o. Idris
Activities in a typical Nigerian slaughter house no doubt pose a serious threat to the environment. This is because of poor handling practices and its adverse environmental effects. In order to have access to water supply which is vital for slaughtered animal processing and to provide a sink for the run-off from meat processing activities, most abattoirs in Nigeria are situated close to surface water bodies.
Pollution also occurs when solid wastes such as bones, pieces of flesh and dung are left unattended in open spaces. When precipitation takes place, these wastes leave the land in a polluted state while part of it get washed into nearby streams. Transporting meat from abattoirs in passenger’s vehicles and motorcycles is another common practice in most parts of the country and this exposes meat to disease vectors such as flies and dust. Inspection of animals by relevant agents in most abattoirs to ascertain the health of these animals is rarely done and even when healthy animals are taken to such abattoirs for slaughter, they end up being contaminated.
Undoubtedly, the unhygienic condition of abattoirs across the country remains precarious. Despite the fact that government has made several attempts to curb the activities of butchers in the country but the scale of illegal abattoirs continue at a sky rocket rate.
Lagos State has a model of what a mega city abattoir should look like in ensuring a healthy and hygienic abattoir condition. The special status of Lagos as the commercial nerve Centre of Nigeria and indeed West Africa with a population of about 24 million people equates to a significant huge demand for wholesome meat production which necessitated the need for the development and upgrading of its slaughter houses. Over the years, the state has upgraded various abattoirs to suit its mega city status.
Cheerfully, Lagos state has over the years shown commitment to the up grading and regulating the activities of the slaughter houses in the state. The Monitoring and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture has been clamping down on illegal abattoir operators. Some of the upgraded abattoirs include Matori abattoir, Achakpo, Ikorodu, Ibile Ilaje and a host of others under rehabilitation process.
Recently, the state has commissioned a new ultra-modern slaughter house at the cemetery market abattoir, Ifelodun Ajegunle axis of the state. The abattoir complex which is a product of collaboration between the state government and the private sector projects the commitment of the state government in its all-inclusive system of governance.
The project is a proof that the implementation of government policies is not to be left to the government alone. The new cemetery market abattoir has deployed the use of modern technology in carrying out the day to day activities as the market is well equipped to a befitting mega city status. It has a well-constructed drainage system and has moved to an improved system of animal burning with the introduction the use of gas to burn animals. The animal burning section has been fully equipped with sophisticated gas burners, cylinder and host of experienced operators.
Also included in the ultra-modern structure is a veterinary inspection point, Slaughter point, carcasses processing tables with running water, animal skin gas burning points, animal skinning and flaring tables, butchers changing rooms, twenty units of toilets and bathrooms, 35,000 gallons of water reservoir and a borehole. The modern facility has drastically transformed the status of the market from its unhygienic state to a guaranteed wholesome meat production meat market in the state.
As a means to maintaining the standard of the market, Lagos state government has declared the operations of butchers around Suuru Army Signal Barraks, Robo B, Ijora ,Oto White Sand, Alakoto, Alaba Suuru Itire Ajegunle, Ibafon, Wharf and Boundry which are unauthorized places used for slaughtering activities around the newly commissioned market as illegal and should henceforth vacated as any slaughtering activities on such areas will be prosecuted.
Similarly, Lagos State has introduced a unique bio gas method of waste disposal. The biogas method is effective in disposing waste through technological advancement of generating energy at the same time. Bio gas is the only source of fuel that can supply both electricity and cooking need. Biogas can power electric generating plants as well as cooking devices. The waste generated is also a form of refined organic fertilizer. Bio gas can eliminate the use of fuel wood by the rural farmers. Above all, biogas is cheaper than all forms of conventional energy and it improves agricultural productivity and sustains the environment.
Lagos State government has also commenced training for butchers with the aim of exposing them to international standard of operation in the industry towards improving the hygiene status of all the government approved abattoirs and slaughter slabs in the State and ensure wholesomeness in the meat that is locally consumed.
Currently, the State government and other stakeholders are putting heads together to fully harness the Eko Large Ruminant Animal Project to enhance the integration of cognate sub project such as feed milling operation. This is aimed at ensuring timely availability of quality compounded animal feeds in the desired quantity, animal slaughtering and processing, and the distribution and marketing of processed beef.
On the whole, it is heart-warming to note that Lagos State is working tirelessly towards the attainment of food security in the state as food security and a hygienic environment occupies the front burner of the present administration as a way to facilitate a healthy living. It is also worthy to note that the is deploying modern technology to tackle the problem of poor environmental sanitation in the abattoirs. And this is the way to go by it for a mega city with large population of people with multi-ethnic and multi-religion background, who are all desperate to earn a living.