We were rounding up our community health course at Medilag and had to participate in field trips to better understand how our environment impacts our health. I was part of the
lucky few who got to visit the Oko Oba abattoir (OOA for short, for the purpose of this review) in Agege. I was actually expecting the worst as I’d read about Lagosians being concerned about the safety of the meat from OOA, but decided to keep an open mind as we visited.
The abattoir was very easy to locate as it’s right in the center of Agege and pretty massive! We arrived and were met by the Community Doctor in charge of the abattoir, and were then shown around by a Vet doctor/supervisor.
For those who don’t know, an abattoir is a slaughterhouse. People would typically buy animals from herdsmen and have the animals slaughtered and/or sold at OOA. Also, Oko Oba abattoir is open to both the Government and public; big companies like UAC use their services as well. There are several slaughterhouses in Lagos, but Oko Oba abattoir is like the Oga of all.
The first thing I noticed at the abattoir was the waste land. I was pretty disappointed because I expected an incinerator. Instead, trash was dumped and burnt in the open and I observed some cows eating the trash.
I had mentioned my concerns to the OOA supervisor, but he said, and I quote, “What is trash to us, is food to the cows”.
We moved on to where the machines were located.
I was pretty impressed because I didn’t actually expect OOA to be well equipped. However, we didn’t have an opportunity to see how the machines worked.
There are two forms of slaughtering at OOA; mechanized and manual. But per Naija style, they perform a lot of manual slaughtering. From what I gathered, the machines are hardly ever used. The abattoir is handled by Hausa men, who are Muslims and apparently, it’s easier for them to manually slaughter the animals (per the supervisor’s explanation, the animal must face the “KABBA” – i.e. the direction Muslims face during their prayers – before being slaughtered and this is easier to do with the manual method). Only Cattle are slaughtered in the abattoir; Pigs are slaughtered elsewhere (due to religious restrictions).
The abattoir was dirty and it smelt of stale blood. The supervisor didn’t want us to see the area for manual slaughtering, so I can’t describe it, but I’m sure you can paint a mental picture.
Vehicles were available to transport the slaughtered animals to various points of sale. We were told the vehicles had air conditioning as meat is supposed to be transported at cool temperatures. They also had hand made tricycles which transported meat from point of slaughter to point of butcher/distribution.
In conclusion, I will rate Oko Oba Abattoir a 5 over 10. Here are my recommendation:
1. I think we need educated and trained people running the abattoir. We have the machines; it only makes sense we use them!
2. There should be an incinerator or a form of closed waste management and cattle should be restricted from the area!
3. There should be a proper drainage system in place.
4. More check ups should be done on the animals slaughtered manually.
In conclusion, fellow Nigerians please cook your meat properly before consumption! Boil it very very well. 🙂