Economy Farming and Livestock News

Despite racketeers, business is booming since the reopening of Gamboru Ngala road

Five months after the Gamboru Ngala road was reopened, business, particularly the trade in livestock, is once again thriving between Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon but business owners and traders have one major gripe – they claim that apart from the normal custom duty stops, some security operatives on the route are fleecing them by demanding bribes to allow them to continue their journey.

The traders say this is eating into their profits and they are not happy.

Gamboru Ngala, a border town between Nigeria and Chad, was always regarded as a commercial and business hub. It was known for its fisheries, farming produce as well as being an economic centre for major- and medium-scale traders from all parts of Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

However, the insurgency soon put a stop to that. When attacks escalated, the Nigerian Army closed this major route because too many people were being attacked and killed on the road. And it just got worse as the insecurity mounted.

But in February this year the Borno State government and the military reopened the 137km Maiduguri-Dikwa-Mafa-Gamboru Ngala road. Motorists, businessmen and traders cheered.

RNI went to Kasuwan Shanu, the biggest livestock market in Maiduguri in the capital of Borno State, to find out how the reopening of this major highway had affected traders’ commercial activities.

Baba Aji Musa, the chairman of the Kasuwan Shanu branch of the Borno Animal Traders’ Association, told RNI that since the Gamboru Ngala road had been reopened commercial activities had begun to thrive again, as it had in the days before the insurgency.

The only issue, he said, was that apart from the normal custom duty stops on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, at the entrance of the Dikwa Local Government Area and in three different places in Maiduguri, there were a number of security operatives who demanded bribes from them along the road. If they refused to pay they would not be allowed to continue their journey.

He said because the custom duty stops were administered by security operatives, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish who were legal and who were racketeers.

“The Gamboru Ngala road is one of the most important and major routes for trading and transporting livestock. Since the Borno State government reopened the road, we have been able to travel safely and the livestock business has begun to thrive again. The government ensured the route was safe by employing security operatives, such as the police, soldiers, Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) members and local hunters, to protect livestock traders, business owners and motorists.”

But Musa said many road users had complained that, apart from the normal customs duties, some security personnel were getting in on the act and were demanding bribes before they would allow drivers to continue their journey.

“Sometimes, they demand almost ₦5,000 per animal. This is the greatest challenge we face along the Gamboru Ngala road. There are three customs duty stops in Maiduguri, one in the Dikwa Local Government Area, as well as one in Cameroon. But others pretend to be collecting custom duties, when in fact they are just bribing people. It’s pure extortion. The government must do something to stop this. We have heard that the same thing is happening on some of the other roads and highways. It is a curse.”

“But,” said Musa, “in terms of security, the road is very safe and we have not heard of any attacks on our members who transport livestock along the route. Even motorists have not been attacked on the road. It is so remarkable that people are even talking about it on radio stations. We thank God, may Allah continue to keep the road safe for us.

“We are grateful that the Eid Kabir celebration is around the corner [on Saturday, July 9] and the market is full of all kinds of livestock, such as sheep, goats and cows, among others. All these animals come from the neighbouring countries of Chad and Cameroon, as well as other markets around Gamboru town. We also get animals from Damaturu and other parts of Yobe State, as well as from the local government areas of Monguno, Mobbar and Gubio in Borno State. So, this year we have an abundance of livestock. And, it’s mostly because that major route has reopened.”

Ba Ali Amadu, the secretary of the Kasuwan Shanu branch of the Borno Animal Traders’ Association, said: “We thank God. Reopening the Gamboru Ngala road has helped the economy of the whole area, allowing open and safe trade again. But the extortion by some of the security operatives means that the profit we make from the livestock trade is not a good as it should be.

“Also, sometimes, we have to change our naira to cefa [West African CFA franc] currency before we buy livestock in Chad and Cameroon. Once we have transported the livestock to Nigeria, the prices increase. The heavy custom duties don’t help and then there are the bribes we have to pay. Also, different currencies have different values, which affects the price of the livestock.”

Amadu said trading had changed. “Before the insurgency, we used to travel to Niger, Chad and Cameroon, as well as to remote places to buy a livestock. Even though the market has opened up again and we feel safe to travel freely during the day, we need more protection for nighttime travel, especially when we go to remote places where there is not enough security.

“But we thank God that things are returning to normal and that business is beginning to boom because of the reopening of that road which is so important to ourselves and our members.”

SHETTIMA LAWAN MONGUNO

About the author

Mbodou Hassane Moussa

Journaliste de formation et de profession. Passionné par l'écriture, le digital et les médias sociaux, ces derniers n'ont aucun secret pour lui. Il a embrassé très tôt l'univers des médias et de la Communication. Titulaire d'une Licence en journalisme et d'un Master en Management des projets, Mbodou Hassan Moussa est éditeur Web du journal en ligne Toumaï Web Médias. Aujourd'hui, il est devenu Webmaster à la Radio Ndarason internationale et collabore à la réalisation du journal en langue française et dialecte Kanembou.

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