Manufacturers, importers stranded over N6.5m duty on transit goods.
Still reeling from the effects of Nigeria’s border closure on its economy, the government of the Republic of Benin has imposed new import duty of CFA9 million (N6.5 million) per transit truck on Nigeria-bound cargoes transiting through the country, which are exempted from all forms of duty under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocols on transit goods.
With the situation yet to be resolved 46 days after, Nigerian manufacturers have suffered losses as their cargoes have remained within the Benin Republic borders, while those with deep pockets have had to pay more to transit the goods via the sea link.
In what appeared to be payback over Nigeria’s closure of some borders in 2019 that lasted more than a year, the Republic of Benin, two weeks ago, stopped 3,700 Nigerian-bound cargo-laden trucks from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo at Ilakoji – the border between Togo and the Benin Republic.
It was gathered that the Benin authorities claimed it suspected the goods were not produced in West Africa. By law, a transit good is not supposed to be charged for import duties in the transiting country, it is expected to just pass through but the trapped trucks can still not cross the Ilakoji and Seme border up till date, according to importers.
Many of the importers lamented that majority of the goods were billed to be sold during last week’s Sallah festival but they could not move them down to Nigeria, which has resulted in heavy losses as some have even collected part payment from their customers.