Mayor Hamilton Green and city councillors yesterday passed a resolution to give the proprietor of Jap’s Halaal Meat Market 10 days to correct real or perceived inadequacies in the business’s operations.
At the city council’s statutory meeting yesterday, the recent seizure of allegedly illegal meat imports from the business by city constables acting on instructions of acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba was brought before the council for its consideration.
Several city constables and armed policemen had swooped down on the Robb Street store after receiving a tip off that the store had unsanitary meat. Some 589 kilogrammes of meat were seized from the Lot 56 Robb Street store.
The proprietor, Ahmad Rahaman, was asked to show reasons why his business should not be closed. He denied that he had decomposed meat at his butchery for sale.
Additionally, councillors asked the Chief Meat and Food Inspector Jagdeep Singh to present the case. Singh was asked several questions by the council, including if he had a log book in which he had recorded the meat products seized from the premises, why the police were involved in a situation that the council claimed was unprecedented and to also saw how the meat that was confiscated was disposed.
Singh informed that he recorded what was removed in a notebook. In relation to the police, he said they were already on the scene when he arrived.
The council, however, was not satisfied that the procedures as set out in the law were carefully followed. Several councillors, including PNCR Coun-cillor Oscar Clark, registered their view that the particular meat centre was targeted by the acting Town Clerk for negative publicity and closure. They also said that the hype and publicity came long before the matter was brought to the council and that it was a rather strange occurrence.
While taking into account all the points raised by the various councillors, the council passed a resolution that Rahaman be given 10 days to correct real or perceived inadequacies and that the matter no longer be pursued.
In an invited comment, Public Relations Officer for the council Royston King said over the years, the council’s meat and food inspection unit has been performing a vital function in ensuring that wholesome meats are offered for sale for the purpose of human consumption. King further said that the Municipal and District Act has set out the procedures by which inspections and allied activities should be done by its designated officer. “The council followed those regulations and procedures and found that some actions of the administration were not in keeping with those laws… At the end of the 10 days, Mr Singh is expected to inspect the particular business and report back to council,” he explained.
Before the commencement of the meeting, Councillor Ranwell Jordan had raised the issue of being greeted with a new recording clerk, which sparked a heated 45-minute long debate between Sooba and the Mayor. Sooba, in defending her decision in replacing the old clerk, said that several councilors had complained about the minutes that were being recorded by the old clerk, claiming that they were not done correctly.
In the end, the mayor decided to have one of his clerks record the minutes of this week’s meeting.
Green also said that the organisational process should be followed when it comes to such situations. Jordan and other councillors said that a decision was taken last year to give the old clerk a six-month probation period, but that it has not even been four months and the Town Clerk had terminated her services. The councillors also said that the Town Clerk attempted to impose her will without consulting the relevant committee, the Personnel and Training Committee, which has responsibility for such matters.