Former General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mr Michael Ajayi, says the economy of Benin Republic depends largely on that of Nigeria.
Ajayi made this submission in an interview he granted Punch where he gave insider’s knowledge about why importation through land borders thrives.
He told the paper: “You know, there is a 15-year age limit for vehicles coming into Nigeria; in Cotonou, there is no age limit and most Nigerians want to buy. The Nigerian government wouldn’t like you bringing in such vehicles because of emission levels, which could be dangerous to the environment.
“So, most importers would buy vehicles that are old and take it through the port of Cotonou where there is no control. But the Nigerian government has imposed an age limit on the vehicles, so Cotonou becomes attractive to such importers.
“Then there are some importers that want to pay very low tariffs, so it (Cotonou) becomes attractive; they do not want to pay duty. But in the case of Nigeria, you just have to pay the appropriate duty to get your vehicle in. So, they want cheap duty; that is why they patronise Cotonou port. For some of them, when the customs border is open, they would prefer to take it (automobiles) through the bush. In other words, they want to completely avoid paying the duty, so they can have cheap vehicles. And the revenue derived from this by the Cotonou (Benin) government is huge. I used to say that the Nigerian economy is the oxygen of Cotonou economy. There cannot be Cotonou without the Nigerian economy.”