- Border Closure: Benin Traders Beg Buhari as Goods Rot
Traders in the Republic of Benin have started feeling the impact of Nigeria’s border closure as baskets of freshly picked tomatoes rot without export channel.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the closure of Nigeria’s border with Benin and Niger on August 19 to compel governments of both countries to reduce smuggling into and outside the Nigerian market.
Barely, a month after the borders were closed, traders in Benin Republic are already feeling the heat as most of their goods have started rotting.
“Buhari and his country want to put an end to us,” said Barthelemy Agon, a pineapple farmer. Agon just like many others have been affected by the lack of export to Nigeria, their largest neighbour.
For taxi and truck drivers, the story is the same as they complained that a litre of imported contraband petrol, usually smuggled from Nigeria where it was subsidized to ease consumers’ burden, has risen by $1.10 since the border was closed.
“We are suffering seriously from this situation — without petrol we can’t do anything,” said Aristide Samson Assogba, a motorcycle taxi driver.
Agriculture Minister Gaston Dossouhoui, Benin Republic said: “This is a distressing sight,” during a visit to Grand Popo, one of the agricultural communities in the country.
“It’s very difficult for our producers. It’s a disaster.”
“President Buhari should be a little bit afraid of God,” said Henry Assogba from the National Association of Petrol Sellers. “The big one cannot live without the little one.”
“Financially speaking, Benin’s small producers are under water — they’ve already had to run up millions (of CFA francs) in debt,” said Adjeoda Amoussou, head of Benin’s Chamber of Agriculture.