People’s health at risk as Fata As the Federally Administered Tribal Areas don’t have proper slaughterhouses, there are fears that the local residents may be consuming meat, which is injurious to their health.
Fata is divided into seven agencies, including Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai, Mohmand, Bajaur, North Waziristan and South Waziristan, for administrative purposes but there is not a single abattoir exposing its around three million people to infections and diseases.
According to Professor Ihsan Mabood Qazi at the Department of Food Science and Technology, Agriculture University, Peshawar, the Fata people have either no or little awareness of healthy meant.
“There is a high incidence of health problems in Fata due to the consumption of unhealthy and stale food items, especially meat. The establishment of state-of–the-art slaughterhouses in the region is the need of the hour to ensure provision of healthy meat to the people,” he told Dawn.
The local residents complain in the absence of proper abattoirs, butchers slaughter animals on the roadside and in open areas ignoring standard practices.
They say the circumstances have left them no option but to consume whatever meat is sold on the market, which is mostly unhygienic.
Rahmat Shah Afridi, a resident of Jamrud, said a few years ago, there used to be a slaughterhouse where animals ready for slaughter were checked by a local veterinarian.
He said the people had to buy unhealthy meat due to the absence of proper checking on meat sellers.
The man demanded the re-activation of the bazaar committee to ensure quality meat to the people.
An official at the Fata secretariat insists around 60 permits are issued daily to a ‘permit mafia’ in Khyber Agency, while local butchers illegally transport meat from Peshawar to the area in vehicles after bribing the personnel manning security checkpoints.
“Permits meant for local butchers are issued to a ‘mafia’, which use them to transport meat to Afghanistan through Bazaar Zakhakhel Subi Kandau area,” he told Dawn.
The official disclosed as no food inspector had been deployed in Landi Kotal Bazaar, a sanitation officer did the job of a veterinarian and food inspector.
He even said he didn’t know if the meat sold in the region was halal.
The official said it was basically the job of local administrations to ensure the supply of clean, good and disease-free meat to the people in their respective regions and that, too, at a reason price.
“Red meat is supplied to the adjoining tribal areas from Peshawar and other settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa daily in trucks and vans but there is no mechanism to check their quality and therefore, the local residents have to consume unhealthy meat, a major reason for high incidence of infections and diseases,” Mukhtar Wali, a resident of Orakzai Agency said.
A local official told Dawn the tribal agency’s headquarters had some slaughterhouses few years ago but they all closed down due to the administration’s negligence.
“Not a single slaughterhouse is functional, now. Butchers slaughter big and small animals without caring for unhygienic conditions and thus, threatening the health of consumers,” he said.
The official said the administration was indifferent to the people’s health issues by and large, butchers slaughtered sick, underage and female animals at will.
Sadaqat Jan Afridi, a resident of Landi Kotal, said the red meat supplied from Peshawar to local market was unfit for human consumption as it was exposed to heat and dust and was transported in uncovered trucks and vans.
He said the area had high incidence of infections and diseases due to consumption of unhealthy meat in the absence of proper slaughterhouses.
Journalist Wali Khan Shinwari said butchers bribed the relevant administration officials to sell unhygienic meat.
He said Fata had no food inspectors or veterinarians to check the quality of red meat sold on the market.
The journalist said veterinary posts had long been lying vacant throughout Fata and thus, endangering livestock.
An official at the offices of the Khyber agency political agent said permits were issued only to local butchers, while relevant officials of the administration regularly visited butcher shops to check the quality of meat sold and those selling unhealthy meat were dealt with strictly.
“The local administration keeps a close eye on the quality and prices of consumer goods, including meat,” he said.
Another official at the Fata secretariat said modern slaughterhouses would be set up in tribal agencies.
He said once sufficient funds were secured from the relevant quarters, slaughterhouses along scientific lines would be established in Fata to ensure healthy and fresh meat to tribesmen.
Director (livestock and dairy development) Dr Malik Ayaz Wazir said 38 of the 47 posts of veterinary officers in Fata were vacant.
He however said the vacancies would be filled soon.
The director insisted his department wasn’t empowered to act against those selling unhygienic meat in Fata.