Benin Republic feels the pinch as Nigeria ends fuel subsidies | ANG
  • June 21, 2024

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The end of subsidies on fuel in Nigeria is being felt beyond its borders. In neighbouring Benin, a litre of “Kpayo”, the smuggled gasoline sold on the side of roads has doubled from 350 to 700 CFA francs (0.5 to 1 euro).

Since Nigeria’s new president Bola Ahmed Tinubu abruptly ended his country’s long-standing subsidy on petrol two weeks ago, prices of black market fuel over the border in Benin have also doubled.

“This increase in fuel prices has surprised us all, moto-taxi driver Jean-Baptiste Tutu says.

“Normally when a new president comes to power, the population should benefit from some benefits or favors before the difficult things begin. But the day that the Nigerian president (Bola Tinubu) took power, the petrol immediately took value. It were taken aback.”

Ending the subsidy was the first measure taken by Tinubu, who sees them as unsustainable financial waste costing the state billions of dollars a year, and allowing massive smuggling of subsidised gasoline to neighbouring countries.

“Why should we feed the smugglers and be the Santa Claus of neighbouring countries,” Tinubu said last week, justifying the decision, which has been unpopular in Nigeria.

For decades, Nigeria’s low-cost gasoline has been transported illegally by road to its neighbours, primarily Benin, where it is resold on the black market by a multitude of informal sellers.

“You know, this fuel helps feed thousands of people in Benin,” said Jeannine, a 48-year-old widow with five children, who says she does not have savings “to start a new business”.

The scale of the trafficking is such that the price of taxi fares has almost doubled in Cotonou. In Cameroon, another neighbour of Nigeria, several motorcycle taxi unions have gone on strike in protest.

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