Environmental Protection Board, Alhaji Baba Shehu Lawan has ordered AEPB Department of Monitoring and Enforcement to arrest and destroy any fresh meat from outside being brought into the territory for sale. This is in line with the revived FCT Meat Haulage Policy for 2019.
He said the rampant cases of unhealthy or donkey meat being brought into FCT from other states has become totally unacceptable as there was no guarantee of the health status of such meat and the jurisdiction of FCT inspection and regulatory agencies does not extend to other states. Speaking at the recent Stakeholders Meeting on Meat Haulage with representatives of FCT Butchers Association, those from neighbouring states and various other stakeholders, Lawan said 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 on this. The policy has already been approved by the 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,’ he added.
Also, the Director, Veterinary Services of the Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, Dr Regina Adulugba said it was unacceptable that while other states had since upgraded their Meat Haulage Policy, the FCT still lagged behind, promising that as soon as ministers settled down, the FCTA will declare an emergency in its abattoirs and slaughter slabs to ensure that every animal slaughtered in FCT is healthy and safe for human consumption.
She dismissed assurances from the states concerned that they would ensure proper inspection of meat they bring in from their own end. She said the question stakeholders should be bothered about is “why are butchers from the adjoining states reluctant to key into the new regulation which allows bringing cattle into FCT for slaughter by those who wished to sell meat in the FCT?” She frowned at the fact that many of the butchers bringing in fresh meat into FCT were previously operating in the FCT before absconding to the states.
‘What is pursuing them from FCT?’ She said it was quite disturbing that their movement out of the FCT coincided with intensification of meat inspection and supervisory rules in FCT. She wondered how many of the states could match the quality of inspection in the FCT where abattoirs and slaughter slabs abound in different locations as opposed to single abattoirs where over two hundred cows are daily being slaughtered. Hear her, ‘Where over two hundred cows are slaughtered in a day, you cannot talk of appropriate supervision or proper waste management.’
It would be recalled that the FCT Administration banned all meat haulage vehicles not using the stain less steel system for transportation of fresh meat in any part of the territory in 2018. To enforce this order, Sanitarian Ajueyitsi Simeon, Director, AEPB Environmental Health and Safety Department, promised to henceforth maintain resident health officers in the abattoirs. He enjoined meat sellers to improve on the quality of meat offered for sale as the low patronage by high class hotels is because of concern about the state of abattoirs and the unhygienic way meat is conveyed to slaughter points.
He warned that his men would penalise anyone that persisted 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. In that regard any motorized or hand driven meat ‘carrier’ or container must carry the logo provided by FCTA with the inscription “ABUJA MEAT HAULAGE” and shall be strictly dedicated to meat haulage alone and must be made of stainless steel. Non compliance with the standard specification made under those regulations will attract severe penalties including impoundment and destruction through burning in a place and manner that shall be designated by the enforcement body.
However, even as the meat haulage policy takes effect in the FCT, discussions are ongoing between the Administration and the Butchers Association from the affected states to find an amicable solution to challenges that might arise, in order to, on one hand guarantee the health of meat consumers in the territory, as well as ensure maintenance of the existing peace and security between FCT and her neighbours