By: Jonathan Abass Kamara
It was on Thursday July 21, 2016 with a fine weather for people in the east and of Freetown, especially those around the vicinity of Bomeh along the Bai- Bureh main motor high way.
There was this news about a 40ft consignment of condemned frozen chicken container from Brazil to be deposited at the Bomeh field site in the east end of Freetown to ensure that consumption did not take place because any consumption would lead to food poisoning. At the point of the operation and even before, a cross section of the public despite security presence rushed to collect to feed on the condemned chicken that has been declared unfit for human consumption. The hungry and desperate crowd defied the earlier megaphone sensitization by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on site not to eat any of the contaminated chicken, that 75 percent of the said consignment of chicken was crushed with mud, human, animal, domestic and industrial wastes. That the chicken would lead to food poisoning that is largely caused by two types of Bacteria, campylobacter and salmonella.
My mountain “fat-foot” eyes and ears could not believe seeing and hearing very youthful strong voices of young ladies and men saying: “We lek we life, but this wan, we go eat am belful; If we die, government go behrr we”. They had heard before from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Port Health Staff on the ground that the contaminated chicken may be exposed to diarrhea, cholera and Helminthiasis, meaning all types of worm infestation but some of the desperate crowd glued their ears and went on the rampage and carted away with what they were able to lay hands on.
The rush by the growing influx of the dozens of people became tense when the main bulldozer had mechanical problem, and the most disciplined Sierra Leone Police decided to display professionalism to protect the desperate crowd and on-lookers from bullet shots. The tear gas was denied by the desperate chicken hunters, and as the situation continue to be tensed with the rush in their good number the security personnel and the Port Health Staff decided to stop the operation with other strategic measure.
The Ministry of Health on Friday July 22, 2016 deployed their newly energetic Public Health Aides in all strategic markets in Freetown and its nearest environs to sensitize and educate market women and the Public who may want to eat or sell those contaminated Brazilian chicken, and in the event were able to collect the condemned stuff and made some arrest. Those smart ones who on suspicion left their chicken and ran away from being arrested may be pursued on intelligence from the public to avert any sale or consumption in their various communities.
There are blames here and there but the Massada, the Police and the Environmental Health and Sanitation officials did their best to ensure that the disposal was done professionally. The message of protection was preached before the dumping and during the dumping but just like it happened when we had the Ebola outbreak, the denial syndrome was the cause of many preventable deaths. It would have been disastrous for the police to open fire, and sometimes even with rampant shooting of tear gas. Personally, you may have your own opinion about who should carry the blame on this unfortunate situation but for me none of the institutions mentioned above should carry the blame for such unscrupulous crisis. As Sierra Leoneans, it is time for us to start telling our ‘tranga yase’ people the truth.
One thing I like about the Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma led government is the interest it has in human resource development noting its importance in nation building and the economic growth in national development. This is the reason why those of us at Mateboi are with the Health Ministry to caution people not to eat or sell the chicken in question because the State values your life. There is more to do than eating a life threatening chicken that has the potential to send you to eternity.