Scores of Ghanaian commercial drivers plying the intra-continental route between Ghana, Benin and Nigeria, are stranded at the Nigeria-Benin border as a result of the continuous closure of that entry point by Africa’s most populous nation.
Reports picked up by WhatsUp News indicate that about 360 Ghanaian drivers and their conductors have been left in the lurch by Nigeria’s decision to keep their borders shut.
The 360 Ghanaian drivers are but a small part of a larger group of stranded drivers who have massed up at the border from different African countries.
As part of their ordeal, the stranded drivers are said to be living under very unsanitary conditions, with modest sanitary facilities at the border consisting of only three bathrooms and two toilets.
The stranded drivers have also been at the mercy of thieves who are stealing the goods that they were transporting to mainland Nigeria.
WhatsUp News understands that Ghana’s High Commission to Nigeria has requested that all Ghanaian drivers stranded at the border put their names on a list and submit for some form of mitigation that is not very clear.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has announced that it is extending the border closure till early 2020. A communication from the Buhari government said the border would probably be opened after January 2020.
The announcement is said to have disarmed an earlier intent by the drivers to stay on until Nigeria eventually opens the borders – it was hoped that the border would be opened this week.
Many of the Ghanaian drivers are said to be preparing to return home as a result.
In September, Africa’s most populous nation closed its land border with Benin with the explanation that it was trying to stem the smuggling of goods, especially rice, across that border.
Being the single biggest market in Africa, the decision has taken a toll on trade within the West African sub-region, with Ghana which is a major importer and exporter to Nigeria suffering its share of the consequences. Among other things, perishables, including vegetables like tomatoes, have rotted away at the Benin border.