By Stanley Onyekwere
Worried by the increasing influx of donkey and other unhealthy meat into the nation’s capital, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) has declared total clampdown against anyone involved in the trade.
Reading this riot act, AEPB Director, Baba Shehu Lawan ordered Department of Monitoring and Enforcement of the Board, to seize and destroy any fresh meat from outside brought for sale in FCT.
Lawan said the rampant cases of unhealthy meat being brought in from other states have become unacceptable as there is no guarantee of the health status of such meat.
The AEPB boss, who spoke at a recent Stakeholders Meeting on Meat Haulage Policy with FCT Butchers Association and those from neighbouring states, bemoaned that the jurisdiction of FCT inspection and regulatory agencies does not extend to other states.
A statement from AEPB’s Head of Information & Outreach Programme Unit, Muktar Ibrahim, said the Director however explained that the directive is to protect ‘public interest’ and not meant to run anyone out of business.
“We don’t want any economic loss to anyone but there is no going back. The policy has already been approved by FCT Administration. What we want is to upgrade the meat value chain.
“As a budding world class city and capital of Africa’s most populous nation, ‘Abuja attracts a lot of local and foreign dignitaries, therefore it deserves nothing but the best, especially in food quality, thus, the meat that is consumed in the FCT must meet global food safety standards,” Lawan stressed.
Similarly, Director, Veterinary Services of Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, Dr Regina Adulugba said it was unacceptable that while other states have since upgraded their Meat Haulage Policy, the FCT lags behind.
She assured that as soon as Ministers settle down, the FCTA will declare an emergency in its Abattoirs and slaughter slabs, to ensure every animal slaughtered in FCT is healthy and safe for human consumption.
On his part, AEPB’s Sanitarian, Ajueyitsi Simeon, Director of Environmental Health and Safety Department, promised to enforce the FCT Meat Haulage policy, which according to him, stipulates that ‘all meat haulage vehicles must have stainless steel containers or carriers.’
He declared that henceforth, resident health officers will be maintained in the abattoirs, to ensure compliance with the policy.
He enjoined meat sellers to improve on the quality of meat offered for sale as low patronage by high class hotels is because of concern about the deplorable state of abattoirs and the unhygienic way meat is conveyed to slaughter points.
He warned that his men would penalise anyone that persists in the unwholesome practice of transporting fresh meat in Taxi cabs, Keke NAPEP, motor cycles or on rusty carts.
He insisted that there must be vehicles solely dedicated for meat transportation which must not be used to convey humans as well.