Fields of tomatoes abandoned to their own fate, symbols of a farm with pain … Beninese farmers pay the heavy price of Nigeria’s decision to close its borders with Benin and Niger.
In this field, dozens of baskets of tomatoes have been rotting for weeks. A disaster for the authorities of Cotonou, even more for the producers.
“These tomatoes are rotting in the field because the border is closed and our consumers have stopped buying them. Everything rots in the field, which means we’re stuck in debt,” plague Anon, a farmer lamented.
Nigeria announced its decision to close its borders on August 19th. Abuja accuses its neighbours of mismanaging their customs. Frozen chickens, rice, fabrics, but also cars … arrive at the port of Cotonou, taxed in Benin, before being transported – often illegally – to the Nigerian neighbour.
On the other hand, Benin still imports contraband fuel subsidized in Nigeria. The closing of the borders is also hard to cash for the traffickers.
“It’s so difficult with the closing of the border. Traffickers go into the bush with two cans each time they cross,” says Parfait, who also sells smuggled oil.
Despite complaints from Benin’s economic fabric, Nigeria’s Comptroller General of Customs recently announced that the borders will remain closed until Benin and Niger control what goes through their borders and comply with the laws.
Naija News had earlier reported that ECOWAS Parliament has pleaded with the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to open its closed borders.
Speaker of the Parliament, Hon. Moustapha Cisse Lo, said that the closed borders hamper the implementation of free trade movement within the ECOWAS region