The abattoir is a place where animals like cows, goats, chicken and rams are slaughtered, depending on the state. For instance, some States in Nigeria slaughter pigs, camels, for consumption.
There is no State in Nigeria that does not have abattoir slabs in place. For instance, in the Federal capital territory (FCT), otherwise known as Abuja by many, there are five abattoirs in place namely: Deidei, Karu, Kubwa, Gwagwalada and Mpape, managed by the Agricultural Services Department of the Federal Capital Territory, FCTA.
However, during a visit to some of the abattoirs or slaughter houses as the case may be, they were all in bad shape. Although, the slaughtering of chicken at the Garki Market has been stopped, before now because it was in a terrible shape.
Before the closure, Chickens were slaughtered and washed in dirty waters and mostly on the ground in a dirty and smelly environment with spirogyra on the wall (greenish wall). Even the boys handling the meat smell and look like people who have not taken their baths for days but today, the slaughtering of chicken in that market has been stopped.
Also, during a visit to the Karu Abattoirs, it was an eyesore as meats were handled in dirty environment. The annoying aspect is that they have health officers who are in charge of inspection and handling of meat in the abattoir but that did not stop the mismanagement of meat there.
During one of our visits, we discovered that the handlers or butchers who smoke Indian hemps wash meats especially goat meat in stagnant waters which has been used for more than three days.
The water has been there for days, it is blacky, smelling and during the washing, the dirty colour of the water is seen. Even one of the handlers confirmed that they have been using the water for days. To confirm the claim, when our correspondent slaughtered a goat, her goat was almost washed in the stinky water.
She has to quickly buy water in jerry to get her goat washed separately. The funniest thing is that they have a well that supplies water but some ladies are making brisk money from it which they sell as low as N50 while those who cannot fetch from the well buy from the rushing tap.
The stories are the same at Mpape, Dei-Dei and Kubwa. Meats are handled on bare floor and in a smelly and dirty environment and the butchers are always looking horrible and dirty. Some of them hardly wash their uniform hence the smells that ooze out of them.
Some visit the toilets and never bother to wash their hands while some blow their noses and still continue with the handling of meat. Our correspondent came across one of the handlers who had skin rashes on him but was still allowed to handle meat meant for consumption.
Abattoirs in Abuja had been in terrible shape for a long time and it is disturbing to note that they have a department in place that supervises the activities of the butchers/handlers who are mostly illiterates.
Before the present administration, meats were transported in rickety vehicles while some transport them on bike in an open space hence exposing them to germs. The ban by the Nasir el-Rufai’s administration led to the transportation of meat in a refrigerated vehicle even though some of them are no longer working.
Almost all the Abattoirs are operated the same way, water are being sold to the handlers hence they manage the water and care less about washing the meats thoroughly. There is no electricity to preserve the meat if they don’t finish selling them and the floors are not well cemented hence some meats are handled on bare or sandy floor.
Another dangerous move by the butchers/handlers is that they roast the skin of the meats with condemned tyres. The materials used for production of tyres are dangerous and harmful to the health of people.
Some consumers who spoke on anonymity expressed their displeasure on the state of Abattoirs in the territory and called on the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello to intervene and provide the basic amenities.
One of them who does not want her name in print said, “If not that we don’t have a choice, I would have stopped consuming meat in this country because of the way and manners they are being handled. That is the reason why I always come by myself to buy meat, I select and look for somebody to slaughter for me, buy water for them to wash it to my taste.
“I really pity people who don’t wash and boil their meat very well because from what I have seen here, somebody will definitely have health issues,” she warned.
Some of the workers at the abattoirs who confided in us complained that they are also not happy with the situation at the abattoirs. “We have complained severally through our leaders to the authority concerned but they are more interested in the money they want to collect than the hygiene of the people and the meat we slaughter.
“As I speak to you now, we are slaughtering animals in an open environment instead of using the slaughterhouse because there is no water in the abattoir and the place is smelly,” he disclosed.
“We wash most of our meat in the stream because we cannot be buying water every time. How much are we making that we should be buying water every time. However, we have been talking to our members to be hygiene-cautious because we know the implication of being plagued by disease,” he concluded.
It is interesting to note that despite the dilapidated state of the abattoirs, the governments still collect revenue from the butchers on every animal killed.
The governments both at the state and local levels should live up to their responsibility. They must do something fast to address the issue. They should channel the money they are generating from the abattoirs into developing and improving the facilities not consuming it every time.
The Butchers Association also on their own organize themselves and sit with the relevant authorities to get the abattoirs fixed even if it means going on strike or give conditions to politicians who will come and promise them, just to get their votes.
However, if nothing is done to address the hygienic situation in all the abattoirs across the territory, then we may be inviting unnecessary visitors – epidemics and government should be ready to tackle the challenges which might rear its ugly heads at any time.