LOW-PRICED and uninspected meat business is thriving in Dar es Salaam, as the supply is available in small portions ranging between 500/- and above.
The 'attractive' price has proved to be the best enticement attracting both consumers and retailers. Interviewed consumers seem not to be worried about safety of the meat or the hygienic condition under which slaughtering had been carried out.
The constant supply of cheap meat in different corners of Ilala, Temeke and Kinondoni municipalities is sustained by livestock traders who are not willing to incur losses of animals that fall sick, detoririate and even die while in transit.
"Would you expect me to throw away the animal for which I paid 400,000/- just like that? We use lorries to transport animals from Mwanza or Shinyanga, the trip which may take more than 18 hours to reach the slaughter houses in Dar," Mr Phinehas Nsemwa, one of the animal traders confirmed the supply while pocketing large sums of cash after sale.
He confessed that since the lorries had limited space, the animals remain standing throughout the journey. "Some fall on the floor and others trample on them to death. Upon arrival the carcasses are taken to designated locations for skinning outside the authorised slaughter houses," he explained.
Yusuf Matimbwi, another trader added; "In fact some of our customers pray that animals die on the way so that they buy meat cheap and this explains the unceasing supply of meat... Nyama choma (mishkaki) is affordable to all and soup from food vendors is equally popular nowadays," Matimbwi confirmed.
A week long survey conducted by the 'Sunday News' at the main abattoirs in Dar es Salaam namely, Vingunguti, Mazizini and Kimara areas confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that meat inspection was hurriedly carried out as stamping was synonymous to inspection. Zuhura Said (37) was found a few metres from Vingunguti slaughter house gates selling pieces of meat.
In fact there were eight others doing the same business each busy attending to customers. She had no time for discussion. She quickly said; "This (cheap meat) allows many people to have a test of meat.
Food vendors as well as house wives come to buy meat from us. We prefer those running registered restaurants as they tell us that the meat we serve them was tasty and appreciated by those fond of spiced beef in foils.
Tell me how many (kilos) do you need," Zuhura asked in a serious tone. Asked how they got cheap meat while just across the gate it was selling expensive, she answered; "Go and ask officials inside as they are equally unfriendly always pushing for our eviction from this strategic location.
Christina Obare (40) said; "Go to some of the butcheries in Kariakoo, Tandale, Mabibo, Chanika, Kigogo and many other places you will find a kilogramme of meat selling at 3,600/- instead of 6,000/- They get large chunks from the same people who supply us with meat. It is good meat and none of our customers has fallen sick.
It boils just like meat obtained from super markets," Christina explained. Commenting on health risks in consumption of meat with such a compromised safety, a Veterinary Officer, Dr Gosbert Balami said inspection of animals should never be judged by observation or external appearance of the animals in the first place.
"Inspection of the animals should start from the auction point in the regions where the animals come from. It is extremely dangerous to gamble with people's lives. Some of the diseases remain recessive but manifests upon the animal's death due to body fatigue or other causes," Dr Balami explained.
He regretted that his 30 years of practising the profession as a veterinary officer, he never witnessed a deserving meat inspection undertaken in slaughter houses in Dar es Salaam. "There has been unbelievable laxity in meat inspection, thanks God that no serious outbreak has happened.
There are hundreds of trained vets but not employed as a result just a few are overstretched in meat inspection and some of the animals go unchecked," he clarified.
The Assistant In-Charge for Hygiene and Environment Management at Vingunguti slaughter House, Vincent Moshi admitted the poor state of the slaughter house and said Ilala Municipal Council had set aside the budget for massive repair of the facility.
Judging from load of animals slaughtered at this particular location, it goes without saying that some of the carcasses reach tables of consumers uninspected at all.
At Vingunguti at least 400 cattle are slaughtered a day, 350 goats and 200 sheep to bring to 950 the number of animals slaughtered under the inspection of three vets, sometimes not all on duty at the same time.
Even if it happened that all vets were on duty at the same time, each would have been required to inspect more than 315 animals a day which is impractical.