Health & Environment

The body of a roasted goat lying on a bench. Behind it is one of the butchers at the Kasoa slaughter slab Pix: Robert Tachie Menson

By Robert Tachie Menson
 A distance of 300 metres away from the Kasoa traffic light is the Obuom road junction off Kasoa-Winnneba road. Another five-hundred (500) metres walk from the Obuom road junction can be found the  Kasoa slaughter slab (not an Abattoir) . There at the slaughter slab, I meet Musa Issa, the chief butcher, who gently welcomes me into the basement of the slab where butchers were spotted briskly and busily cutting, and splitting roasted goats and cows with sharp knives and miniature mattocks.
The idea and process is to get the meat in readiness to be cart away by a meat van to the market centre for buyers and consumers. The time was 0600hrs, and as the chief butcher and I stood by, he narrated a revealing story depicting how the slab came into being. “We have operated the present location for the past twenty- seven (27) years. The land was bought and given to us by our fathers who incidentally started the business”, he echoed.

If there is anything worth noting of the slab, then it must be its enviable status as the only slab within the Kasoa Municipality reputed for the preparation of fresh and uncooked goat and cow meat.
The facilities in the slab fall completely below the standard requirement. The slab unusually lacks separate confinement for its activities. So things are done in the open in the full glare of the public. Everybody including passers–by and pedestrian, and passengers in commercial vehicles who ply the Obuom road most often would stick neck and eyes out on reaching where the slab is situated to catch a glimpse of activities there.
At other times, the picturesque scene created by the rising up of dark fumes from burnt car tyres high up into the sky attracts the attention of people who cannot but to lift their heads up for the view of the fascinating spectacles of smoke formed up in the atmosphere.

On the slab ground lies all sorts of materials including both liquid and solid waste - blood gently oozes out from parts of slaughtered animals and hits the ground, powdered remains of burnt vehicle tires strings lies coiled up and stick out loosely on the slab ground.
The car tyres had been used in the roasting process to burn the fluffy parts of the goat and cow’s off. The remains (the main body) is what is finally cut into pieces and cart away into the market place.
But Musa Issa tells me the slaughtering and burning of the animals is done in the early hours of the morning in order to meet huge customer interest and market demand in time. The vehicle tyres which are often used in the roasting process, more often than not, release thick dark fumes into the atmosphere everyday and it’s very scenic and fascinating to people who cross the area.                   
But a careful look at the slab actually shows a sordid and an unpleasant situation.
The unhygienic condition under which meat is prepared paints\a negative picture about waste management efforts as well as the general sanitary conditions in the area and raises critical questions, about authors regard for sound environmental management practices and public health concerns.

Cow dung heaped along the edges of the gutter close to the
Slaughter slab Pix:Robert Tachie Menson 

Very near the slab are two undesilted drains on both ends.
One deep and huge, while the other shallow and small and massively choked, heaped up along its edges with the excreta of the slaughtered animals. Flies and other insects run over them.
Musa Issa explicitly makes it clear to me “we don’t intend to
stay here forever. In fact we have always alerted the authorities, including the Municipal director about these conditions, indicating our willingness to vacate the present location and relocate to the new post at the new market off the Bawjiase Road”. 

Malam Issa one of the butchers busily washing
some part of the goat at the slaughter slab.Some of
 the meat lies on  top of the slab

Pix:Robert Tachie Menson

The reasons for their intended relocation may probably, be due to several reasons one of which includes the huge sums of money spent daily on purchasing water to run the facility.
“Each day, we expend not less than GH¢ 70.00 to get water from a nearby house to operate our business here. This is because there are no properly layout pipe lines connected at all to our facility. So we have to pay that much to fill a dug out reservoir just to enable us to store enough water”, he stated.
He appealed to the government to quickly come to their assistant or work assiduously to find a way by which water can be supply to the facility to reduce daily expenditure on water which had a bearing on their operations.
The chief butcher asked the government to expedite action on the construction of the new slaughter house so they can relocate in the shortest possible time.
Mr. Patrick Agbeke, Awutu – Senya East Municipal Assembly Environmental Health Officer, acknowledged the place was created by the people for use when the town wasn't developed.
He adds “the Assembly has built a new abattoir at the new market, however, permanent water connection to the Abattoir is a big problem so a borehole has be provided in the short term pending the connection of tab water at the new site”.
The Environmental Officer acknowledges the unhygienic condition under which meat is produced and says” we all know the condition is not good”. 
We are not going to use tyres to prepare the meat this time at the new slaughter house but gas to burn the animals. The use of car tyres and smoke can cause cancer”, he said.
Mr. Agbeke said the situation where meat was wrapped in rubber covers and placed in meat vans and sent to the market would be a thing of the past soon.
This is because the assembly plans of giving them a new vehicle upon their relocation.
He stated: “i do not allow the current problems at the slab to overshadow my important duty of ensuring the production of wholesome meat”.
 “Ours is to ensure the meat is wholesome and   its carting away is properly done”, he adds smiling. The carting of the meat to the market centres are sometimes conducted in wheel barrows/
The new slaughter house when fully completed would have facilities such as a source of water, proper drainage system, inspection room, changing room and electric power supply. 

Powdered remains and Coils of burnt car tyres lies on the ground of the slaughter slab. Pix:Robert Tachie Menson

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