Bush Meat Sellers Lament Over Ebola Virus

More than three weeks since the outbreak
of the Ebola virus in Nigeria, many
Nigerians have suffered from the scourge,
either directly or indirectly.
According to the Minister of Health,
Onyebuchi Chukwu, at least three people
have so far died in Nigeria as a result of the
dreaded disease since a Liberian
businessman, Dr. Patrick Sawyer imported
the disease into Lagos on 20 July, 2014.
The minister also informed in a press
briefing that no fewer than 10 people have
so far been confirmed to have contracted
the Ebola virus while 189 persons are being
monitored to ascertain if they would show
traces of the disease.
Apart from these set of people, other
Nigerians that have suffered heavily from
the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Nigeria
are bush meat sellers.
This is as a result of the disclosure that the
deadly Ebola virus could be contracted
through animals like antelopes, bats,
monkeys etc.
Since this revelation, the fear of Ebola virus
has forced regular patronisers of bush meat
to desert joints where bush meat are sold
across the country.
A check on highways and federal roads
where bush meat sellers usually place their
stands and display various species of wild
animals to entice travellers are now empty
as the sellers have been discouraged due to
low sales.
Speaking on their plight since the outbreak
of the Ebola virus, Mr Idris Aleghe, 36, who
sells bush meat along Kabba road in Kogi
State said: “I was not aware that there was
a disease that is caused by bush meat until
one of my regular customers told me that he
would not buy from me because Ebola virus
is in town.
“It was that I gathered in the news that the
disease is already in Nigeria and that one of
the ways it cound be contracted is through
eating of bush meat.
“Since then, I have been recording low
patronage from my customers and many of
my colleagues have stopped coming to sell
because of the amount of unsold bush meat
we have to take back home daily.”
When asked of other jobs he could be doing
pending when the Ebola virus outbreak
would be curtailed, Aleghe said: “I have no
other job, this is what my family do for a
living and I have seven children and two
wives.
“We now eat the meat that is meant for sale
since there is no money to cater for the
family. We have been eating the bush meat
and nothing has happened to any of my
family member.”
Not only the bush meat seller on the
highways have been suffering from the
outbreak of the Ebola virus but also the
smoked meat (suya) sellers, the barbeque
bars and the Asun (grilled meat) sellers in
Lagos.
According to Al-Kaleed, who has a suya spot
in front of a popular club in Ipaja area in
Lagos, most of his customers now drive past
him without stopping by to order for suya
meat.
“I am not even selling cow meat; I make my
suya from goat meat I buy here in Lagos at
Agege market. But I realised these days that
before I sell suya to my customer, he or she
would ask me to eat out of the meat in
other to be convinced that my suya is safe.
“And sometimes I would have to sell a suya
that should cost about N1,000 for N500
naira just to get it out sold before it gets
spoilt,” Al-Kaleed stated.
Also narrating his ordeal since the Ebola
scourge hit Africa’s largest city, Mr Shola,
who sells barbecue along Adeniyi Jones in
Ikeja, Lagos, said in a bid to encourage his
customers to continue to patronise his
barbecue he has been observing new
measures while preparing and dishing his
barbecue.
“I have a sanitizer by my table and when I
try to cut the meat for customers, I put my
disposable hand gloves on so as to prevent
any direct skin contact.
“I always ensure that I dispose used gloves
after each sale and put on another one to
sell for the next customer.
“Though I incur more expenses because of
these new safety measures but it is worth
doing so as to keep the business going
during this Ebola virus outbreak,” Shola said.
In spite of the risks of consuming bush
meat during this period of scare over Ebola
virus, Mr Vincent Onyebuchi, a regular buyer
of Suya at Akowonjo area in Lagos, said: “I
must tell you that despite the warning that
one could contract the Ebola virus through
bush meat, I still patronise suya joints after
each day’s close of work.
“It is like an addiction that I cannot easily let
go, not even for the fear Ebola virus.”
The 36-year-old banker added “Each day I
close from work; I would stop by at my
usual suya joint and buy 1000 naira worth
of suya to eat with bread or garri when I
get home.
“What I do is that I pray over the suya when
I want to eat it.”
Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide
Idris, while speaking at a recent press
briefing in Lagos, urged residents in Lagos
to improve on their personal hygiene in
other to reduce the chances of contracting
the Ebola virus.
He also implores those who deals in expose
consumables to hygienically fashion out a
more ethical preparation and packaging of
their goods so as to encourage potential
buyers and risks of contracting Ebola virus.

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