STORIES

ESSENCE DU BÉNIN

In Benin, there is an active network of illegal trafficking of petrol from Nigeria since 1970. Benin does not dispose of enough gas station to supply the population and the existing ones cannot compete with the lower prices set by the illegal trafficking of petrol by smugglers. Traffickers buy the petrol to sell it throughout Benin. The kingpins of this widespread network gained a lot of power over the years and are essentially in control of the country. Authorities and politicians have surrendered to their will.

ESSENCE DU BÉNIN is a documentary project that explores the vast network of illegal trafficking of gasoline (essence, in French) from Nigeria to Benin, a country that has not enough stations to cover a population whose main mode of transportation is the motorcycle. Given this need, a succulent business opportunity emerged. In a few decades the sale of gasoline has become the first –under the table– economic activity. Major traffickers are now the leaders of everything. Politicians have surrendered to their will and the police turns a blind eye in exchange for a few CFA, the Beninese currency.

Women, disabled people, university students and even children depend on this activity, as it is one of the few alternatives of work which enables them to pull their families up. All of them are exposed to danger on a daily basis. Explosions induced by small accidents occur often and have caused hundreds of deaths in recent years while the harmful gases coming from gasoline are damaging people's health. The tentacles of the illegal network are embedded in every corner of the Beninese society who cannot cope with a problem that extends way beyond its borders on its own. The only possible solution would be that all players involved took up their role to put these activities on hold. Unfortunately, there is no short- term solution in sight.

FILMOGRAPHY:

In Benin, there is an active network of illegal trafficking of petrol from Nigeria since 1970. Benin does not dispose of enough gas station to supply the population and the existing ones cannot compete with the lower prices set by the illegal trafficking of petrol by smugglers. Traffickers buy the petrol to sell it throughout Benin.

An activity carried out on land, sea and river. Through jungle trails that hide the passage across borders and throughout the whole Beninese geography, the so-called 'bomb-men' will bear dozens of liters to the corners of the country, risking their lives and those of their compatriots.

PROJECT TEAM

This transmedia project, addressed to different platforms, has been made possible due to the combination of journalistic rigor and audiovisual excellence pursued by: