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Nigerien importers resume transit trade via Nigerian ports

By Mohammed Usman.

Nigerien importers that had hitherto avoided Nigerian Ports in preference of other West African ports have rescinded their decision following intervention of Transport authorities from both countries.

The decision came at the end of a workshop organized by the Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission for Cooperation held in Abuja with the theme; Promoting Transit Trade for Greater Economic Integration of Landlocked Countries: The Case of Nigeria/Niger.

 Speaking to Newsmen at the event, Yusufu Umoru, the Managing Director Constil des Utilisateures des Transports Publics (CNUT) said in the past the Nigeriens avoided Nigerian territory for security reasons because their businessmen had in the past been robbed and even some of them got killed. According to him, in the past it was safer for Nigerien importers to travel through Cotonou and other routes.

Umoru said with the present improved security situation in Nigeria, they have rescinded their decision and would now patronize Nigerian ports.

 “When importers are bringing in their goods instead of passing through Lome or Cotonou or Accra, we prefer that they pass through Nigerian ports because Maradi, Zinder and Diffa are closer to Nigeria. If they go through other ports it is more expensive,” he said.

 

He stated that Nigeriens were more confident in doing business from Nigerian ports as President Muhammadu Buhari is an ex-military man and would take steps to address security challenges to enable safe passage of their goods.

Also speaking at the occasion, Mohammed Sambo Bashar, permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport said Nigerien exporters were putting heads together with Nigerian authorities to enable them find easier ways of conveying goods from Nigerian ports to the northern border.

Bashar recalled that in the past Nigeriens had been using Nigerian ports to convey goods but later on desisted for some reasons. He added that the workshop was an opportunity for them to bare their minds on challenges they were encountering with using Nigerian ports and to proffer suggestions on ways of enhancing transit trade.

He said the Nigerian government also intends to brief them on measures put in place to enhance transit trade, adding that the workshop would enable them to overcome whatever challenges they are facing since the Nigeriens had indicated interest in using Nigerian ports and that was the more reason they came for the workshop. He asserted that whatever was the request of the Nigeriens the Federal Government would be able to meet their conditions over time to assist them.

 In his comments at the occasion, Ambassador Abubakar Abdujelili, Secretary General Nigeria/Niger Joint Commission said, “We have overcome the challenges that stopped Nigerien importers from transiting Nigeria because when Niger stopped using Nigerian ports we made efforts to get them back but they refused since there were certain things they were not happy about. According to the Nigerien importers, they were being harassed by Nigerian policemen, Custom officials and immigration. The Nigerian ports had so much security presence as such we took the matter to former President Goodluck Jonathan to help us get them back and he agreed.”

 According to him, both Nigerian and Nigerien authorities would reach agreement which would be forwarded to the Presidents of both countries for consideration. Abduljelili said official Nigeriens goods now have diplomatic immunity while the importers were given special cover but would still have to pay the normal duties.

Commenting on security challenges, he said it was only Diffa border that had security challenges but the entire border area between Niger and Nigeria were safe for business transactions.

 

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