Burning rubber at slaughterhouse smokes out health centre

Residents of New Takoradi are sick of breathing in toxic smoke coming from burning tires in the neighbourhood’s open slaughterhouse. The smell of manure and burnt rubber is debilitating, especially now that it’s rainy season.

The open slaughterhouse near the New Takoradi Health Center

“Right now if it rains, the stench from that place, the smell, you cannot even sit here to work,” says Jennifer Tetteh, the senior staff nurse at the New Takoradi Health Center.

[pullquote]“When they slaughter the animals, the use of tires fills the air with smoke. It gives us problems when we breathe,”[/pullquote]

The slaughterhouse uses tires to sear the skin, meat popularly called coat or “worley”, which is then sold to consumers. The process is known to cause cancer as well as contaminate the meat. With the help of the government’s Social Investment Fund, a new, modern facility is currently under construction.

“As for rainy season like this, we can’t use the firewood because if we use firewood, you can’t burn even one animal. We slaughter almost 60 to 70 animals a day, ten to fifteen cows a day and without this we can’t do the work,” says Mohammed Anaba, the chairman of the Takoradi Butchers’ Association.

“Now we are trying to get a modern abattoir. If we get a modern abattoir, all of this will be a thing of the past,” he says.

However, Anaba suspects it could take up to a year to complete the new building. For some, that’s simply not good enough.

“When they slaughter the animals, the use of tires fills the air with smoke. It gives us problems when we breathe,”

The situation is even more dire at Tetteh’s clinic. The New Takoradi Health Center is located just across the street from the slaughterhouse. It’s hard on the staff – many request relocation resulting in high turnover, and even harder on the patients.

“The more you take in the smoke, you are prone to get infection and since the cause is there and you don’t treat the cause, no matter the treatment you give to the person the person comes back with the same complaint. So it will be like their treatment is ineffective,” Tetteh says.

The clinic is calling for an immediate fix to the problem, but Anaba says that is unlikely.

“We fought for so long to get such a facility and if God bless and now they have started it for us, we also thank God that even if it is three years that they will finish, we are waiting for them to finish for us,” he says.

Waiting, however, could mean serious health consequences for these people.

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