Government has rebuffed insinuations that the move to re-open the Maun abattoir is a political gimmick insisting it is backed by the need to help farmers in that area.
Oreeditse Molebatsi, assistant Minister of Agriculture, told parliament his ministry’s intention to re-open the abattoir in the wake of the recent FMD out- break in the area meant business.
“I am not trying to score political gains over this issue. Everything regarding the re-opening of the abattoir is running smoothly and I would like to assure this House come end of August the abattoir will be in full operation,” he revealed.
He said the slaughtering of animals would start at slow pace and eventually gain momentum by the end of August.
He was responding to a supplementary question by the Selebi-Phikwe West MP Gilson Saleshando who doubted the minister’s statement over the re-opening of the abattoir as initially posed via a parliamentary question by the Ngami MP Taolo Habano.
Saleshando argued the re-opening is meant to score political gains.
While confident of the FMD situation in the area, which continues to be stable since the outbreak on November 16th 2009, Molebatsi is however worried about the cooperation displayed by the residents such as “farmer apathy, resulting in poor vaccination coverage in some crushes and flooding of the delta making patrol and maintenance of the buffalo fence difficult”.
The re-opening was delayed by a strike by transporters in South Africa who delayed the completion of water treatment plant.
That notwithstanding, he reassured parliament the process to re-open the facility was on track, citing a trial slaughter conducted on the 24th and 25th June in which two animals were slaughtered, one on each day.
“The purpose of the trial was to test the various processes, machinery, hygiene and others before routine slaughtering of animals can commence,” he said.
“Observed shortcomings are currently being rectified, and a low volume kill of about 10-15 cattle per day is expected to commence on 13 July 2010 until the cooking facility is completed in August 2010,” he revealed.
Cautious of the danger the disease may impose, meat from low volume kill, which is uncooked, will only be consumed in Ngamiland district.
“Meanwhile the contractors will continue to rectify any identified problems as well as continue with refurbishment of the plant which is expected to be completed and the plant fully operational at the end of August 2010,” he said.