The continued closure of Nigeria border with Niger Republic since August of this year may have significantly affected commercial operations of inland dry ports in the country. This is even as our correspondent gathered that commercial activities in the northern region of the country including border communities of Katsina, Sokoto, Borno and Zamfara states may have collapsed in the aftermath of the political crisis which led to the border closure.
Stakeholders who spoke to our correspondent noted that the closure has not only disrupted trade in the inland dry ports in the country, but has also set off a significant economic crisis while also emphasizing the potential severe repercussions for the nation’s overall economic stability.
In an exclusive chat with our correspondent Barr. Hassan Bello, the former Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) voiced his apprehension, declaring the border closure as “antithesis to integration and intra-African trade.”
He emphasized its impact on the “free movement of goods and services,” especially for inland dry ports that are now grappling with a restricted target market. Bello also cautioned against the potential repercussions for the Kano-Maradi rail line, a pivotal corridor for trade, expressing hope that this setback would be temporary.
“The closure of the border is quite worrisome, because it is antithesis of integration and inter-African trade, it’s a restriction on free trade or free movement of goods and services.
“For the dry ports, it means narrowing the targets of vast volume of cargo to Niger and Chad Republic and therefore a loss of anticipated revenue. I just hope this will not affect the Kano-Maradi rail line which is expected to be a major artery and corridor of trade. I sincerely hope this is a temporary setback and things will normalize soon”, he said.
On his part, the Managing Director of the Dala Inland Dry Port; Dr Ahmad Rabiu in a telephone chat with our correspondent provided a more granular perspective, shedding light on the tangible consequences faced by businesses.
“The border closure has negatively impacted our operations and the economy of Kano and the nation at large,” Rabiu lamented.
Speaking further, Rabiu underscored the informal nature of cross-border trade, noting that a substantial portion goes unrecorded. Rabiu revealed that Nigeria’s import volume had plummeted by a staggering 70%, leading to scarcities and affecting foreign exchange availability.
“We are losing some markets that have been ours”, Rabiu lamented, drawing attention to the fact that Niger Republic, which is a significant trading partner is now sourcing essential goods from alternative markets of other neighbouring countries.
He however appealed to the government to reconsider its stance on the closure of borders against Niger Republic, stating that the two nations’ economy are integrated as the two countries have over the years rely on each other for some essential goods.
“The border closure has impacted negatively on our operations and generally on the economy. We are begging the government to reconsider its stance on border closure because the two economies are so integrated and now one of the things is that Niger that has relied on us significantly for quite a number of essential goods are now getting the same goods being supplied to them through Togo and other countries that share border with them. Our economy is suffering and we are losing some markets that have been our market and by the time alternative market is established and the border closure prolonged, it may be impossible to ever get back to where we were”, he alerted.
Speaking also, Barr Osuala Nwagbara, a maritime lawyer, weighed in on the abruptness of the border closure, acknowledging the security concerns, but called for a more measured response. “Government should have closed the borders in a regulated manner,” Nwagbara said.
He argued that Nigeria’s border agencies, including Immigration and Customs, could effectively filter the movement of goods and persons, allowing for legal cross-border trade while addressing security concerns.
Nwagbara emphasized the need to prioritize the interests of Nigerian citizens and businesses. “We should have a way of allowing Nigerians who have goods across the borders to bring over their goods while still regulating the influx of unwanted elements and unwanted goods into our country,” he added.
Checks by our correspondent revealed that as the closure persists, the economic landscape is marked by dwindling trade, disrupted supply chains, and a looming threat to the nation’s export capacity.