THE Lagos State government, at the weekend, closed down the cow skin (Ponmo) processing section of the Oko-Oba abattoir and Lairage Complex, Agege and dislodged processors of the cow skin and hide in the complex.
A statement by Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, spokesperson of the state Ministry of Agriculture, quoted the commissioner, Mr Toyin Suarau, who led a team of ministry officials and men of the Lagos State Task Force to the abbatoir, as saying the development became necessary because of the health hazard posed by activities of the processors who, in their large numbers, burnt cow skin in a heap of burning tyres.
He noted that this bonfire emitted a thick toxin smoke which spread within the complex and adjoining neighbourhood, adding that the smoke and the unhygienic way of processing the cow skin was harmful to human health.
“I wish to make it clear that that the use of tyres for cow skin processing has been reported to the state government sometimes ago and has been dealt with, but the return to this unhygienic method of processing in the complex leaves much to be desired and this is why this section of the complex had to be closed,” he said.
Suarau stressed that the activities of the “Ponmo” processors constituted a health risk not only to inhabitant of the complex but to residents of adjoining communities and to the processors themselves.
He vowed that the state government would not condone any act of illegality and harmful health practices in any of the abattoirs in the state, adding that it had deployed sizeable numbers of veterinary officers, animal workers to abattoirs to ensure that the minimum set standard for animal slaughtering and processing were adhered to.
He said that the issue of animal slaughtering and processing called for attention because a lot of animals must be inspected before and after slaughtering, according to the meat inspection law.
He noted that plans were underway to fence the whole Oko Oba abattoir, adding that the government would remove slums, shanties and market in and around the complex; remove heap of solid waste; ensure subsequent waste management by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and protection of the complex environment by officials of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).