Fuel trade in Nigeria, Benin and Togo – an unstoppable illegal business

In Nigeria, nearly 150 000 barrels of petrol are stolen daily out of an estimated daily production of two million barrels, to service an illegal business in Benin and Togo. The authorities in these three countries take measures to curb the phenomenon but in vain. The sale of petrol in the informal sector has resisted all manner of solutions and continues in full swing, and with its own host of consequences : fire outbreaks, loss of human lives, profiteering and blunders by the security and control forces, losses for the national economy,  pollution of the environment, etc.

The illegal sale of “kpayo” or “boudè” (Editor’s note: local name in Benin and Togo for illegally sold fuel), is carried out under the very eyes of everybody particularly the police, the gendarmerie and customs, as well as the authorities charged with combatting the illegal fuel business. In spite of the numerous measures, this business endures because since Nigeria’s borders with its neighbours are largely porous, some quantity of this subsidised fuel appears through fraudulent means in the neighbouring countries where a litre of petrol is more expensive at the filling stations.

Since this highly inflammable product is not sold under appropriate conditions, fire outbreaks and illnesses are frequent. Petrol sold in the informal sector is seven times more than what is sold in accredited filling stations. Every month more than 17 million litres of fuel are brought into Beninese territory, which makes more than 200 million litres per year; considering the average price of the litre sold to the consumer, the annual turnover of the illicit sale in Benin will thus be close to 150 billion CFA Francs, which is about 300 million US Dollars. In Togo, the loss to accredited petrol dealers was valued at more than 60 billion CFA F (i.e. about 120 million US Dollars) for 2011. Yet the major illegal importers and bulk dealers are well known but are left untroubled because they are protected by politicians and the communities which assure them of their support during elections jousting, because they invest in social initiatives. It is clear that beyond the official speeches, the authorities have given in to this illicit business which is hurting the national economy.

Investigation carried out by Brice HOUSSOU (Bénin), Jean-Baptiste ATTISSO (Togo) et Daouda  ALIYOU (Nigeria).

Published January 6, 2013 on the blog: Nigeria Infos.

Published January 8, 2013 in FRATERNITE, Bénin.

Published January 8, 2013 in L’Indépendant Express, Togo.

Read the article in English .

Read the article in English on the blog Nigeria Infos.