Swarm of flies, thick spirogyra, and open drains with a pungent smell from animal excreta. These were the scenes at the only functioning slaughterhouse within the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) when environmental health officers arrived at the facility in Avenor.
The abattoir has been operating for over two decades under continually deteriorating conditions. All efforts by the AMA to get it renovated to meet accepted hygiene and sanitary standards have proven futile.
In the past year alone, at least three visits have been made to this same slaughterhouse, with a caution for its operators to ensure adherence to sanitation standards.
But like the mouse, when the cat is away, the departure of the officials also means the return to flouting the regulations.
Florence Kuukyi, the Director of Public Health at the AMA, said, “I came here to have a meeting with you. I even gave you a summons and threatened to plead with the court to help close down this place. But look at the place,” she fumed. https://23e3529babd5a150c6c0204f31135ed9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The team was greeted by open drains which had been choked by excreta from the intestines of the slaughtered animals.
As flies besieged us in the yard, the pungent smell from the gutters at the abattoir was also in a strong contest for our attention. But that was before the orders came.
“So as we are standing here, we are commanding all of [them] to go and get brooms to clean the place right now. If they don’t do it, we are closing down the place,” Florence Kuukyi screamed.
And as the workers began cleaning the premises, there were calls for the place to be closed down altogether. But the owner of the abattoir, Alhaji Mahmoud, pleaded for mercy, promising to ensure immediate action.https://23e3529babd5a150c6c0204f31135ed9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“As for this, you are right; that is why we are pleading with you. I will come to your office with my boys so that all of them can take the test as we work to improve the place”, he begged.
But, the Head of AMA’s Environmental Health Unit, Joseph Asitanga, explained why a notice of abatement is being issued instead of the closure.
He said, “If we say they shouldn’t be here, they will go and be slaughtering the animals along the road, and all we will have is elsewhere slaughtering which will not be under the supervision of any veterinary officer”.
But Alhaji Mahmoud called for government support to rebuild the place that kills cattle sold as beef in most parts of Accra. In all, the team visited four different sites, closing down one public toilet in the process.