5th July, 2011
Butchers in Lagos are gradually returning to their old unhygienic means of transporting beef to markets, Consumer Advocate has observed.
Beef, a staple for millions of Lagos residents, from the Abattoir in Agege and makeshift slaughter slabs across the state, is now openly being conveyed to markets on okada (commercial motorcycles), and in rickety cars and commuter buses, popularly called danfo.
The Lagos State Government, in 2008, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, outlawed these crude means of conveying meat and, in their place, introduced the Eko meat vans and branded tricycles to ensure that beef consumed by the public is hygienic and safe.
Unscrupulous butchers are finding a way round the meat vans by concealing beef in dirty polythene bags and ferrying them to markets on motorcycles, in cars and under the danfo seats.
In the course of the journey, some of the beef not properly wrapped in the nylon bags get exposed to all manners of filth, gathering dust and flies also perching. Passengers also step on beef kept under the danfo seats, making the meat not fit for consumption.
Following the introduction of the meat vans (about 200 of them are now in operation), the government constituted a task force to ensure that butchers complied with the new scheme which is in collaboration with commercial banks to assist butchers group to finance the acquisition of their own meat vans.
For about a year into the introduction, the task force at the Agege Abattoir was efficient in enforcing the ban on okada and unapproved vehicles conveying meat to markets. However, the officials later began to compromise on the rules by collecting bribes from the okada and cab operators who had been had hit by the introduction of meat vans.
At the Agege Abattoir, task force officials in mufti who are supposed to apprehend defaulters have continued to look the other way while meat sellers continue to flout the law, thus the unwholesome old way of conveying beef to markets has gradually crept back.
Consumer Advocate’s checks revealed that smart butchers trying to cut transportation cost are the ones encouraging the illegal transporters. While the approved meat vans charge between N200 and N300 for a thigh of slaughtered cow, depending on the distance, the okada, danfo and cars charge much less, sometimes a third of the fares charged by the Eko meat vans.