Subsidy removal cripples fuel smuggling across Nigerian borders
Investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) shows that smugglers in the border local government areas of Fufore, Maiha, Michika, Madagali, Mubi North and Mubi South are now switching to other businesses.
The subsidy removal which forced petrol prices in Nigeria up to N141 per liter left little room for margin for smugglers who for years had traded the product across Nigeria borders where the margins are huge. Before now, smugglers where making as much as N155 in Chad where fuel sold for N210 per liter, N112 in Ghana where the product sells for N177 per liter and N125 gain per liter in Benin Republic where it sells for N190 per liter.
Benin Republic , which shares land border with Nigeria , is already feeling the effect of the policy move by the Federal Government which ended fuel subsidy January 1.
“The removal of subsidy has choked our business. It is no longer lucrative as the price of fuel in Cameroon is between N160 and N180 per litre; by the time you bribe some officials of the two countries at the border, what you get after selling the fuel is not encouraging at all,” a smuggler who simply identified himself as Bala said.
Another smuggler, who gave his name as Buba Daji, said he had been in the business for the past 15 years, but now had to switch to livestock business.
“I want to urge all those affected by this subsidy removal to accept the development in good faith and pray that this disappointment turn to real blessing for us and the country as promised by the government,’’ Daji said.
Another smuggler, who identified himself as Bitrus Baba, said he would now concentrate fully on his dry season farming business; from time to time, I used to do some dry season farming, but with this development I will now concentrate on it fully, as it is also lucrative,’’ Baba said.
Corroborating the stories of the smugglers, many residents of the border areas and officials said the usual night traffic of vehicles carrying jerry cans of fuel across the border had reduced drastically.
A fuel marketer at the border town of Mubi , who preferred anonymity, told NAN that before the removal of subsidy no fewer than 60,000 litres of petrol was smuggled out daily from the border alone.
“The subsidy removal has seriously affected the business, as even here in Mubi we are still buying fuel for between N155 and N160 per litre,’’ he said.
Source: Business Day