The Ada West District Assembly (AWDA) has announced that it will relocate butchers to its newly constructed slaughterhouse.
The Assembly’s response follows The Fourth Estate’s investigation that exposed how a neglected GH₵ 290,000.00 modern slaughterhouse was threatening the health of residents at Sege in the Greater Accra Region.
It also pointed out concerns raised by the local butchers, including lack of electricity, and deteriorating roads leading to the slaughterhouse, which had prevented them from utilising the modern facility.
Speaking on Okorli FM’s Morning Show, a local radio station, on Thursday, the District Coordinating Director (DCD) at AWDA, Aaron Otoo, expressed the Assembly’s commitment to resolving the problems highlighted in The Fourth Estate’s report.
He acknowledged that the Assembly was unaware of the challenges faced by the butchers until the report by The Fourth Estate.
Mr Otoo assured the residents that the AWDA would take immediate action to ensure that the issues raised by the butchers are addressed comprehensively so that they can move to the new facility.
“So, what we will do is that since it has now come out, we will ask the engineers to go and check and see how best we can address it,” he promised.
The DCD acknowledged the difficulties faced in securing a “suitable location” for the slaughterhouse, highlighting that the challenges faced by the butchers were important to the District Assembly.
He explained: “If we have gone through this headache [to get a land] and have finally found a place to build the slaughterhouse, of course, we wouldn’t have even known that the place is waterlogged, but in any case, we did the thing there.”
Mr Otoo also addressed reports of the butchers slaughtering animals at their current place, emphasising that the AWDA was unaware of the practice.
He recounted an incident four months ago when concerns were raised about the butchers not utilising the new slaughterhouse.
According to him, the AWDA promptly engaged with the Zongo Chief (Chief Butcher) to resolve the issue.
He added that AWDA’s commitment to swiftly resolve the concerns raised by the butchers in The Fourth Estate’s report reflects their dedication to ensure the health of the residents in the Sege area is prioritised.
“We know human lives are involved so any time we hear a complaint quickly we want to address it. I was even at your sister station to talk about it. The last of its kind was a letter we received from The Fourth Estate, asking how much was involved in the construction, when the project was awarded, and all of that. That response was given. So, we thought everything was fine because nobody has come to complain again,” he said.
Responding to questions about consultations with the butchers before constructing the slaughterhouse, the DCD stated that the structure met the standard requirements.
“I don’t think their opinion would have mattered too much. If it is not the standard, I think there should be issues but it is the standard,” he added.
Butchers at Sege slaughter animals openly in a dilapidated facility, and their waste, in violation of Food and Drugs Authority’s regulations, is disposed of in containers.
Without a chimney facility, the butchers resort to using open fires to remove remaining hair from slaughtered animals, frequently enveloping the neighborhood in thick, billowing smoke.
In response to public health concerns and environmental hazards, AWDA initiated the construction of a modern slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Sege in 2018.
The facility, designed to meet stringent hygiene and safety standards, was inaugurated in February 2023 after a total expenditure of GH₵290,000.00. Despite its completion, the local butchers are yet to relocate to the new facility, causing frustration and despair in the community.
“We breath contaminated air everyday, and the meat people consume may not be safe for consumption due to the unsanitary conditions at the place,” Prosper Dylan Amuyao, a resident, said.
Data from the Sege Polyclinic obtained by The Fourth Estate revealed that Upper Respiratory Tract Infections ranked highest among the reported illnesses in the Sege area over the past five years. This was followed by cases of anaemia and malaria.
Also, there has been a noticeable increase in typhoid cases as 2021 and 2022 alone recorded 2,323 cases.
When the butchers were contacted, they vehemently denied any misconduct, asserting their adherence to the law and commitment to community safety.
However, when The Fourth Estate visited, the new slaughterhouse was found abandoned and in disrepair. Weeds had surrounded the building, and all doors were locked, except for one.
There were also no signs of electricity supply.
The District Chief Executive (DCE), Sampson Tetteh Kpankpa, acknowledged the completion of the facility but said he was not aware of the challenges faced by the residents, maintaining that all was well.
When The Fourth Estate probed further, putting its findings before him, he said: “I cannot speak to you again, I am busy,” and ended the call.
Contrary to his statement, community leader Gabriel Kabutey appealed to the Assembly to intervene and mitigate the health and environmental risks in the area.
“We urge the Ada West District Assembly to enforce the relocation order immediately. The health and well-being of the residents should not be compromised due to the inaction of a few individuals,” he asserted.