From Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Butchers and meat sellers in the university town of Nsukka, in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, are bothered about the state of their business environment. They said the abattoir in the town was no longer conducive for their operation.
They have insisted that any meat from the abattoir would not be fit for human consumption, hence, could be harmful and possibly lead to an epidemic. The butchers anticipated that residents might stop patronising them for beef slaughtered at the place.
So, they abandoned the abattoir, and now slaughter their animals on the pavement of their shops at Ikpa Market, Nsukka, which Daily Sun discovered to be very unhygienic. A visit to the slaughterhouse in Ikpa showed the butchers had abandoned the slaughtering spot, which had collapsed and exposed other people in the market to possible outbreak of disease with the stench oozing from the shallow pit dug for the abattoir.
One of them, Uchenna Okenyi, bemoaned the unhealthy nature of the abattoir, stressing that the situation has been totally unfriendly to them: “We have been suffering from this ugly situation for years now. Look at where we slaughter our animals. This is not a good place to do it. But there is nothing we can do for now.
“We are appealing to government and Nsukka LGA to come to our aid. They should build a befitting abattoir for us. We cannot continue like this. This place is not hygienic at all.”
Another meat seller, Joseph Uzodinma, said: “Here in Nsukka abattoir, we do not have borehole where we can get water to do our daily business. We do not have good drainage system. And, painfully, look at where we slaughter our animals. We pay our levy here. We are appealing to government at all levels to help us with these facilities.
“We know we are operating in an unhygienic environment. If you go to where we should use as slaughterhouse, it is dilapidated and odour coming out from there can cause epidemic. We contribute a lot to the economic development of Nsukka. So, we need the help of government because we cannot carry this financial load of building new abattoir all alone.”
However, chairman, Nsukka Butchers Association (NBA), Chief Paulinus Mbah, explained the efforts the group had put in to ameliorate the situation. These included a courtesy call on Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi two years ago, where he promised to assist the local government council build a modern abattoir at Ikpa Market, Nsukka: “We are also aware that the state government is eager to construct an ultramodern abattoir for us. This is because we had a meeting with the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Matthew Idu, and he promised that the state government is eager to establish the said project. We are also aware that COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a serious blow to the economy of the world.
“We are pleading with the state government to give this project urgent attention because of the dilapidated condition of the abattoir and because of the good people of Nsukka who deserve neat and hygienic meat.”
He listed their challenges: “There is no water supply at the abattoir; we buy water daily to wash the slabs and our meat. The borehole at the abattoir is not functional. The existing slaughter slabs are worn out and we find it difficult to wash and sweep the surfaces.
“The whole structures are too old and not even spacious to contain the slaughter of cattle, goats, pigs. Government should, as a matter of urgency, provide us with the basic requirements like pipe-borne water and truck/tipper for easy evacuation of wastes, especially this period of COVID-19 pandemic.”
Investigation revealed that some traders at the market were already mobilising to drag the NBA to the local government authorities for polluting the environment. The aggrieved traders claimed that waste fluid from the abattoir was a huge source of concern to them because of the health implications.
However, the supervisory councillor for health in the local government, Obinna Ozioko, confirmed that both the council authorities and the state government were aware of the horrible state of the abattoir and were making holistic moves to salvage the situation: “The administration of the former council chairman, Patrick Omeje, who died few weeks ago, had formalised modalities with the butchers on how to give the abattoir a facelift but it was just stalled because of his demise.
“Also, the state government on its own had concluded plans to rebuild the abattoir to a modern standard, but the plan was temporary affected because of the outbreak of COVID-19.”
He promised that, in a short while, the Nsukka abattoir would wear a new look, courtesy of joint efforts of the local and state governments.