State House, Banjul, 12 August, 2016
His Excellency President Adama Barrow on early Sunday afternoon paid an unexpected visit to the central abattoir in Abuko to garner firsthand information on the sale of sacrificial rams in honour of the forthcoming Eid celebrations of the Muslim ummah, locally called Tobaski. The surprise gesture was in keeping with the president’s profound interest in being up to speed with the socioeconomic realities of the citizenry.
“It is part of the preparations for the Tobaskifeast for Muslims to purchase livestock to slaughter. I am calling on all Gambians to care for one another in this [festive] season,” the President told reporters on the site.
Mr. Musa Njie, speaking on behalf of the livestock dealers in Abuko, expressed delight at the Gambian leader’s visit to the abattoir, adding that they are seeking government’s intervention in upgrading and maintaining the structures with the improvement of security as it is the country’s main slaughterhouse. He said due to incidents of theft and armed robbery, they have decided to mobilize funds on their own to employ night watchmen, adding that they even pay for the upkeep of the place, including utility bills.
According to Mr. Njie, the structures are dilapidated and need revamping because the abattoir has not received any form of maintenance since 1981.
Amady Jah, a ram dealer, for his part, expressed gratitude to the President for his unexpected visit, describing it as very timely and important in order to boost the morale of the livestock dealers. Mr. Jah, however, urged the government to look into what he called the ‘’high duty fees’’ levied on the ram dealers at the center. He added that all the problems they were faced with emanated from the former president’s decision to privatize and sell the place to himself in 1998. He said the move didn’t serve any purpose other than enrich the owner. Mr. Jah concluded by expressing delight and optimism that these challenges would be addressed by the Government. Prices of rams range from D8, 000 to D25, 000.