LAGOS, NIGERIA – The state government has banned the use of motorbikes popularly known as ‘Okada’ and ‘Air Cool Vans’ for transportation of meat and meat products in all abattoirs and slaughter slabs across the State in order to ensure a well-structured meat transporting system which befits the status of a mega city.
Use of motorcycles for commercial transportation is very popular among Nigeria cities and villages. However in Lagos meat vendors find it convenient to transport bulk raw meat of about 60kg or more from abattoirs and slaughter slabs to local markets, hotels, restaurants and food caterers.
Also popularly used to convey meat are boxed vans provided with air vents and tagged ‘Air Cool Vans’. These Air Cool Vans counterfeits of the refrigerated vans introduced by the Lagos state government to discourage the use of motorcycles and commercial buses, known as ‘danfo’, for meat transportation as part of its poverty alleviation scheme and were distributed to the various vendors under a finance scheme.
It was in July 2012 that the state launched its 60 refrigerated meat vans while commissioning the Cooperative College of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
The 60 meat vans were part of the Eko Meat Van Project which was inaugurated in 2008 by the Lagos State Government as a Public and Private Sector Partnership (PPP) endeavour (Skye Bank, Fidelity Bank) to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of the meat that is consumed by the public, through ethical and hygienic transportation.
The state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Oluwatoyin Suarau announced the ban at a stakeholders meeting with representatives of the Lagos State Butchers Association, Eko Refrigerated Meat Van Association, Apapa Park transporter and the Sheep and Goat Butchers Association. noted that only the authorized ‘Refrigerated Meat
He noted that only the authorized ‘Refrigerated Meat Vans’ are allowed in the business of transporting meat within the State.“Anyone who transports meat products using means other than the authorized refrigerated meat vans will have their meat seized. The ‘air cool van’ which was earlier introduced in 2008 has been phased out and must not
“Anyone who transports meat products using means other than the authorized refrigerated meat vans will have their meat seized. The ‘air cool van’ which was earlier introduced in 2008 has been phased out and must not operate within the State again”, he said.While reiterating that the State government will not relent in its efforts to stop the unwholesome transportation of meat,
Reiterating that the State government will not relent in its efforts to stop the unwholesome transportation of meat, Suarau warned against carrying of meat products in polythene bags and unauthorized vehicles.
He added that the State government has zero tolerance for ‘Okada’ operations within the premises of abattoirs and slaughter slabs and thus directed that all owners of ‘Okada’ should vacate the premises of the abattoirs and slaughter slabs immediately.
Suarau stated further that the Monitoring, Enforcement and Compliance Unit on dislodgement of illegal abattoirs, seizure of stray animals, monitoring of illegal meat transportation and regulation of veterinary premises will commence enforcement of the ban on operations of motorcycles and air cool vans within the premises of the abattoirs and slaughter slabs in the State.
While maintaining that the government will soon provide more refrigerated meat vans to replace old and rickety ones for effective transportation of meat in the State, Suarau informed that a standard of what a mega city abattoir should look like has been set and urged the abattoir operators to give the government necessary support to achieve the successful implementation of policies through a high level of policy compliance.
“The State has a model which is aimed at ensuring healthy and hygienic transportation of meat within the State. I, therefore, urge all to give maximum support to the government in the implementation of these policies”, he said.
The Commissioner explained that the since the inception of the present administration, policies and programmes aimed at changing the face of abattoirs and slaughter slabs have been embarked, adding that apart from upgrade of facilities and infrastructure of abattoirs and slaughter slabs, the State government has also trained butchers and live cattle dealers drawn from various abattoirs and slaughter slabs in the State on current trends in abattoir management.
In his words, “The State government through the Ministry of Agriculture has also continued with the removal of waste, removal of shanties and dislodgement of illegal occupants at various abattoirs and slaughter slabs as part of efforts aimed at ensuring and maintaining a hygienic and conducive environment and wholesomeness in the red meat value chain business in Lagos”.
He averred that the commitment of the present administration towards the attainment of food security depends largely on the cooperation of every resident of the State, stressing that food security and hygienic environment occupies the front burner of the present administration as a way to facilitate job and wealth creation as well.