Operations at the recently constructed abattoir at Mirabeau, St. Andrew’s may not likely take place any time soon, according to Minister of Agriculture, Roland Bhola.
He made the disclosure following a question posed by a participant at a Government Constituency Forum held at the St. Michael’s Roman Catholic School in Byelands, St. Andrew’s last week Tuesday.
Minister Bhola disclosed that the facility experienced some technical problems with the boilers that are to be used by the butchers.
He said that upon completion of the construction of the abattoir, the boilers that were imported from Italy were in good working condition at the time of being tested, but “within weeks after they went bad.”
He said a technician flew into the country to sort out the problem, and believes that the remedial work has already been completed.
However, the senior Government Minister stated that the lack of a cold-storage truck to transport the meat has caused a further delay in the start of operations of the abattoir.
“We cannot allow the butchers to continue to transport the carcass of the animals from Mirabeau to Grenville where they will be selling it on open-back (truck) – the Ministry of Health will not allow that, as a matter of fact, it’s unhealthy,” he said.
Minister Bhola spoke of efforts that were made to rent cold-storage trucks from the dealers of poultry meats on the island as an interim measure but that again ran into problems.
He explained that the truck for transporting the meat must be fitted with hangers.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, the trucks have been ordered from Japan through George F. Huggins, but it will take 10 to 12 months before they arrive on the island since they are specialised vehicles.
An additional problem cited by Minister Bhola was the fact that where the meat will be sold in Grenville, there has to be a cold-storage room.
“It is not a case whereas before you will slaughter the animals on Friday nights and up to Saturday night you still have it hanging in the open. They (the meat) will all be stored in a cold-storage room and be taken out portion at a time so you will get healthier meat,” he remarked.
Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who headed the 2008-13 Congress administration, has consistently been clamouring for the opening of the abattoir, which he believes, will help reduce the food import bill.
Last year, Director of Trade in the Ministry of Finance, Junior Mahon disclosed that in 2014, Grenada’s food import bill amounted to $251,840M with poultry accounting for $25M annually.
The Mirabeau Abattoir has been constructed as part of the Greater Grenville Project that includes the Grenville Market Square Development Project, a modern market square facility, and a bus terminus.