By Olayinka Olawale
Lagos – The Lagos State Government (LASG) says it will start the dislodgement of illegal slabs as well as the monitoring of all veterinary premises from Sept. 1, across the state.
The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said this on Sunday during the re-inauguration of the Monitoring, Enforcement and Compliance (MEC) Team of the ministry.
Olusanya said that the dislodgement was in furtherance of the sanitisation and reform of the red meat value chain.
She noted that the exercise would also involve the monitoring of meat transportation as well as stray animal control.
She added that the dislodgement is necessary especially as the state was particular about producing wholesome and healthy meat for its residents while simultaneously ensuring that the streets were free of stray animals.
She recalled that the dislodgement of illegal slaughter houses had been an on-going exercise for about three years now.
According to her, the need to strictly enforce meat transportation using only the designated vehicles and stray animals’ control which have lately become more rampant cannot be over emphasised.
“The need for continuity and sustained effort against perpetrators of illegalities in the state informed the re-inauguration of the MEC unit by the current administration.
“You will agree with me that the menace of illegal slaughter slabs is rearing its ugly head in the state again with attendant negative public health impact on the over twenty million populace of our dear state.
“The government of Lagos State under the leadership of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu seriously frowns at such public health risk to Lagosians, hence, the reconstitution of this unit,” she said.
Olusanya noted that the team would monitor the existence of illegal slaughter slabs as well as ensure proper regulation of veterinary activities in the state.
She added that the state would also monitor the activities of the Lagos State Private Veterinary Premises Registration Authority.
She also said that all aspects of veterinary premises regulations, veterinary standards, compliance, monitoring and enforcement would be covered by the team.
She added that issues concerning transportation of live animals and meat from government approved abattoirs to the market would also be looked into.
The acting commissioner said that only the Eko refrigerated meat vans and the Eko live animals transport were permitted to move meat from one place to another.
“The MEC team is also expected to monitor the standards of operations of all approved slaughter houses statewide in order to ensure compliance with professional best practices.
“Also, all illegal and unapproved modes of meat transportation and live animals’ transportation will be dully curtailed as only approved modes will be allowed.
“The modes are the Eko refrigerated meat-vans and the Eko live animals transport.
“Its aim is to further sanitise the red meat value chain and improve the quality and wholesomeness of the meat consumed by the people,” she said.
Olusanya also said that ongoing rehabilitation works were being undertaken in the 20 approved slaughter slabs in the state in a bid to improve their present states to meet international standards by converting some of these slabs to semi-mechanised abattoirs.
She said that the government had been monitoring and regulating the affairs of premises where veterinary activities such as treatment of animals, sales of drugs and biological activities take place.
She said that the menace of stray animals on major roads and streets was on the high.
She said that such animals, by destroying various ornamental plants, shrubs and trees of aesthetic value within the metropolis, had increased the risk of accidents and environmental degradation.
She said that the prevalence of the outbreak of zoonotic diseases which pose major threats to human health had increased.
“In addition, the team is also to monitor and control the menace of stray animals statewide by extensive intermittent raiding of these animals off Lagos metropolis.
“Lagosians should by this re-inauguration expect a better service delivery in terms of hygiene, safety and wholesomeness of meat products as only approved slaughter houses are to release duly certified and inspected meat to the populace.
“The standard of veterinary regulation and service delivery statewide will definitely be up scaled and maintained,” she said.
The acting commissioner said that since the inauguration of the stray animal control, several animals had been confiscated, owners fined to recover the animals while unclaimed ones were donated to orphanages within the state.
Olusanya said that all stakeholders including members of the Lagos State Butchers Association, Abattoir Concessionaire Forum, Lagos State Sheep and Goat Association and Lagos State Ram and Goat Sellers Association would been carried along for an effective operation of the MEC unit.
She listed other members as Eko Refrigerated Meat Van, Eko Live Animal Transport and the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association.
The Chairman of the state Butchers Association, Mr Bamidele Kazeem, pledged the association’s full support for the state government’s initiative to sanitise the red meat value chain.
Kazeem said that registered abattoirs and meat markets were already in compliance with all the laws by the state government concerning the reform of the red meat value chain.
“My members in Lagos State are very much ready we have been clamouring for the re-inauguration of the enforcement team because of the many illegal slaughter houses in the state.
“We have to control the nemesis caused by these illegal abattoirs and sales of meat.
“Some people now have even taken the laws into their hands; when the state gives a law about something, they do the opposite which our association is not happy with.
“That was why we appealed to the state government to revive the monitoring, enforcement and compliance team so that these measures will be totally complied with,” Kazeem said.
Mr Hamzat Kareem, the Secretary of the Lagos State Abattoir Concessionaires Forum, noted that the re-inauguration of the monitoring, enforcement and compliance team was a welcome development.
“We hope that this will curb the menace of illegal abattoirs because they are posing a huge threat to our businesses as legal operators.
“It will also help in ensuring that wholesome meat is produced for the populace,” he said.