Nigerians are sabotaging their own economy through illicit trade, smuggling fuel from Nigeria by sea to neighbour West African countries.
Daily deliveries provide an alternative supply to Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali. The fuel is sold at up to 30% less than at the licensed pumps.
The sea is delivering a lucrative but illicit trade in Nigerian petrol to West African countries. Legally bought in Nigeria, the fuel is loaded onto boats which sail to Togo under the cover of night.
On a narrow and sandy strait in Togo dozens of men, women and children plunge into the ocean and return with numerous containers which have been towed to shore by swimmers. Fuel is much cheaper in Nigeria compared to its neighbours as the government subsidies its price.
A full barrel can be worth up to $300. Nigeria says the fuel subsidy costs the equivalent of more than $8 billion a year, and attempted to cut it in January, but reversed its decision after a nationwide strike.
Duties from smuggled fuel avoid central government coffers but are paid in tributes to the town chiefs and regional officials controlling these border towns.
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