Lagos State Government Abattoir Complex, Oko-Oba, Agege, is the llargest abattoir in the state. At least, 4,000 cows are being slaughtered at the place on a daily basis.
Expectedly, a majority of the residents rely on the abattoir for their beef needs. But many of them do not buy directly from the abattoir and would rather rely on beef sellers in various markets in the state. For this reason, they might not be aware that the beef they buy is usually infested with swarm of houseflies from a waste dump at the back of the abattoir.
It is impossible for one to pass through the area without holding one’s breath. The stench coming from the dump is choking.
A resident of the area, Femi Olabode, told the correspondent on Thursday that he had been battling with malaria for more than a month as a result of the dump.
“This rubbish dump at the abatoir is what triggered the skin infection on my body. The place is dirty and there are so many mosquitoes there,” he said.
“Mere looking at the rubbish dump and seeing the abatoir at the back make me feel like throwing up,” another resident who declined to give his name said.
The question in the mind of most residents is: is it hygienic to have a ruubish dump close to an abattoir?
What worries some of the residents that spoke to Sunday Punch is that the rubbish dump is located very close to a place where majority of the residents in Lagos State get their beef from. This, they said, represented a serious health hazard to consumers.
A resident, Mrs. Olufunke Olabisi, called for an immediate evacuation of the refuse.
She said, “The rubbish dump has been like this for the past two years. It’s a terrible sight. I don’t know why a rubbish dump should be located very close to the abattoir.
“It was initially located at the entrance of the abatoir, but because area boys wanted to use the place as a park, they moved the dump to the back of the abattoir where the actual cow slaughtering takes place.”
Olabisi said that residents had made several complaints to the Lagos Waste Management Authority but it had yet to respond.
“We wrote a letter to LAWMA to relocate the site, but it was to no avail. After this, we complained to the ministry of the environment but it was also to no avail,” she said.
She said this had affected their health.
Olabisi said, “Some of the common ailments we battle with here are lasa fever and cholera. The air is polluted. We residents are also choked with the odour that comes from burnt cow skin (ponmo) and legs. This is always done at night when we are sleeping.
“This area is dirty. Driving out of the residence is a hassle because of bags of waste that have been dropped on the road. I urge the ministry of environment to do something about the rubbish dump.”
Another resident, Dr. Julius Taiwo, urged the government to create an alternative rubbish dump. He said, “The government should create another location and it should be properly managed and frequently cleared.
“We are breathing polluted air which is harmful to us. This pollution triggers cardio-infections. Other ailments such as cholera and typhoid fever are common here. We are not happy with the situation. It is not fair to us living here. This dump site should be relocated.”
A concerned mother, Mrs. Ireti Olowo, said she was worried about her son’s health.
She said, “I’m more concerned about my child. I don’t like the situation. The smell from the rubbish dump is terrible and there are always flies around the compound.
“These flies obviously carry germs. The waste site is not properly located. The government should please intervene. Residents are at risk of an impending outbreak of epidemic as a result of the offensive odour from the abattoir.”
Beef sellers express mixed views
When our correspondents approached some meat sellers, many were sceptical about talking.
One of them, Mrs. Ore Saraki (not real name), said that they had been barred from talking to journalists on issues concerning the abattoir, adding that whoever violated the order risked expulsion from the market.
She said, “I can’t talk too much, but what I know is that this dump is not good here. The place smells. The stench has driven away our customers. Even those of us selling at the abattoir are at risk. It causes tummy upset for us.
“But what we can do? We have complained to the chairman. We heard that anyone who complains again will be evacuated.”
Another beef seller, who refused to disclose her name, said the stench provides “Vitamins.”
“We are not complaining. There is no problem with the dump located here. We are enjoying the odour. What disturbs rich people doesn’t disturb us. Who are we to complain? Our ogas (master) are in charge. They have the final say and they were the ones that put the dump here. They know what is good for us,” she said.
Hakeem Sulaimon (not real name), a butcher, said he was tired of the state of the abattoir.
He said, “The stench is terrible. There are so many houseflies. If this dump can be moved, it will be good. We have lost customers as a result of the offensive odour emanating from the dump. How can an abattoir be so dirty?
“They should come and clear this place. It’s affecting our health. Most of us have no other job. That is why we are here. We don’t enjoy working here. This place has been like this for over one year. LAWMA comes to clear the refuse whenever it pleases it. It is not right.”
Aside from the issue of the dump, our reporter who spent more than an hour in the abattoir observed that despite the state government’s law on the handling of beef, butchers still defied the law barring them from carrying beef on their heads and motorcycles.
Butchers union, LAWMA trade blame
Meanwhile, an official from of the Association of Butchers, Agege, Lagos who pleaded anonymity, said LAWMA was to blame for the state of the abattoir.
He said, “The LAWMA truck is to come at least twice a week to clear the waste. Since Friday, we have been calling them but they have refused to come. We pay N120,000 a month. They are the ones to blame not us. We are playing our part.”
When asked why the dump was positioned in front of the abattoir, he said there was no other place to put it.
In his response, the Managing Director, LAWMA, Mr. Ola Oresanya, said some of LAWMA’s vehicles had broken down.
He said, “We had problems with a few vans, but we are getting it sorted out. However, for the rubbish dump, it’s expected that it must be within the market, but if residents are not pleased, we will relocate it to a more suitable place. LAWMA has not received any letter from them, we urge them to write to us.”
A lecturer at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Prof. Ogunrinola Oluranti, of the Department of Economics, in an online article, said the preponderance of open dumps in many developing nations has spurred the need to examine the health implications of such dumps for the surrounding residents.
He said, “Rubbish dumps are usually very dirty and unkempt. There is little doubt that living in the area has several health implications. The environmental pollution from the dump has negative effects on their health status.
“Many of these residents may suffer from ailments such as constant bouts of malaria as a result of infection from mosquitoes’ bites; chest-related ailments resulting from inhalation of fumes from waste incineration; as well as all kinds of skin irritations.”
By MOTUNRAYO ABODERIN