I saw this news headline during the week, Traders arrested for selling expired biscuits, I did not need to open the story to know that it must have happened in Lagos.
In the story, a special unit of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) made the arrest after a tip-off. The traders, who were said to have changed the expiry dates on the biscuits would have gone scot free if they weren’t selling the biscuits for N1900 as against the original N4500.
One thing I love about Lagos is its independence from the Federal Government. Lagos has its own law enforcement agencies, LAWMA, LASTMA, KAI, etc. Recently KAI (Kick against Indiscipline) started arresting pedestrians crossing expressways. They park their black maria- like vehicle by a pedestrian bridge and arrest those whose eyes are too small to see the pedestrian bridge.
Can we, please have something like that specifically for what Lagosians consume? Packaged food, cooked foods, drinks, water? In fact whatever we are putting into our mouths. Can we have a body that regulates restaurants, bukas, bakeries, the storage of foods and fruits,people that ensure that Lagosians are not consuming fake/expired/unhealthy food? Even in markets.
I was in a market in Somolu weeks ago to buy vegetables, the lady selling plucked the vegetables I bought and packed it in a black nylon bag. While I was waiting for my change, she started plucking for another customer. Just then, her toddler walked to her with her panties hanging around her ankles and tugged on her wrapper. She looked down at the child, took her to a corner where she stored more vegetables in a sack, she scooped water with a bowl from a bucket just by the sack of vegetables and washed the baby’s buttocks. Then she dismissed the baby and continued plucking more vegetables with the same hands, the same hands that just finished washing buttocks. The owner of the vegetable saw nothing wrong in the buttocks to vegetable movement, but my stomach was already churning. I went home and doused the vegetables in salt.
This same thing happens at abattoirs, in fancy looking restaurants, local road side bukas, food hawkers, supermarkets. We are not even there to see it.
I have seen people selling big green apples that normally goes one for N100, shouting meji 100, the smaller ones that normally sell for N50, meta N100. Why? What is wrong with the apples? They most likely are expired! But people are buying and consuming without asking questions.
Anyone that knows how to cook rice opens a buka, or starts hawking food. Whether they are in good health or not. I have watched people sneeze into food being cooked for public consumption. Beans that was ground for akara or moi-moi left outside for flies to feast on. Women roasting corn or plantain dip fingers into their nose, scratch their hair, armpits, and then continue turning what they are roasting. God forbid, if there is a cholera outbreak in Lagos before we say pim, half of Lagos is dead.
Lagos is one the largest cities in West Africa, we are overdue for a Lagos State Hygiene Management Agency, LAHMA, abi that doesn’t sound good?