Trojan News :: Real Time News


Benin Blocks River Crossings To Niger Amid Rising Tensions

BENIN has blocked crossings of the river marking its border with Niger, escalating tensions since the military seized power in Niamey last July, sources told AFP on Thursday.

Earlier this year, Benin announced it was reopening its side of the border, which had been shut following the coup. While the Niger side remained officially closed, Benin had previously allowed informal transit of foodstuffs, particularly grains, across the Niger River to show solidarity with its neighbour.


However, recent weeks have seen increasing tit-for-tat accusations between the two countries over the movement of goods. Relations have been further complicated by conflicts in Niger and Burkina Faso that threaten Benin and its Gulf of Guinea neighbours Ghana and Togo.

Benin reopened its border after the West African bloc ECOWAS lifted sanctions on Niger’s military rulers in February. Yet, the continued closure on the Niger side has irritated Beninese President Patrice Talon, who remarked that Niger was treating Benin like ‘an enemy.’

A source close to the Benin government confirmed the closure of the river crossing, stating, ‘The river is part of the border. Niger says its borders with Benin are closed. It’s a consequence.’

The source added, ‘With the flow of people on the river and the boats whose loading no one controls, if a tragedy occurs it won’t be good.’

According to a Benin military official in the town of Malanville, a police officer, and local residents, the Malanville bridge providing the border crossing remains closed on the Niger side, and the transport of goods across the Niger River is now prohibited. ‘The suspension was gradual. We first banned the passage of goods, now there is no more traffic on the water,’ a military official told AFP anonymously.

‘We have been deployed to prevent any boarding here,’ the official added. Alassane, a Malanville resident, confirmed a large deployment of Benin police and troops in the area, noting that Nigeriens were dispersed by troops on the other side as they could not cross the river.

This closure is the latest in a series of decisions impacting trade between the two countries. President Talon has blamed informal border trafficking for the rising cost of living in Benin, which led to protests last month over high prices.

Despite these tensions, Benin recently agreed to allow exports of Nigerien oil through its port of Seme, resolving one point of dispute. A vessel loaded with one million barrels of crude oil left Benin’s waters on Sunday, with the government warning the move was ‘provisional.’

As tensions persist, Benin and regional powerhouse Nigeria are holding talks to boost trade along their shared border. The border was previously closed overnight in 2019 by former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a shutdown that lasted 18 months and severely impacted Benin’s economy.

About The Author