Contraband fuel - Benin

All along the roads of Benin tables of random dirty bottles are a common sight.  Not soft drinks or water as one might first expect but rather contraband petrol sold by the gin, whisky or beer bottle.  Fuel smuggling from neighbouring Nigeria became a very common occurrence as global oil prices boomed in recent years.  In November 2011, Benin's finance minister acknowledged that more than three-quarters of the fuel consumed in the country was illegally imported from Nigeria - though ironically much of it may have been bought legally since heavy subsidies in Nigeria keep prices much lower then in surrounding countries.


With prices significantly cheaper than in the licensed filling stations it's not suprising that this is the way many people buy their fuel.  Despite it being illegal the local authorities have done little stop the trade, vendors watch out for police raids but racketeering and corruption mean that the practice continues without intervention.  Whilst the practice causes a loss of revenue for the government it also provides work for many people and therefore to stop it could prove counterproductive.