ESSENCE DU BÉNIN
Forty years ago, smugglers from Benin began to buy petrol (essence in French) from Africa’s largest oil-producing country, its neighbour Nigeria, and ship it illegally back into their own country.
Today, the ringleaders of this lucrative business operate in complicity with their own country’s politicians and authorities, giving rise to a vast network for smuggling petrol that is then sold in the street on the black market at a lower price than at service stations, and thanks to which the country’s population supplies itself.
Women, the disabled, university students and even children depend on this business and play a key role in it. They are all exposed to the toxic fumes that petrol gives off and to the danger of the explosions from the accidents caused by the lorry drivers, popularly referred to as “man bombs”.