Onion prices to go up as importers remain stranded in Benin

Story: Peace Awuku

The closure of the Benin border in the wake of the coup in Niger is anticipated to lead to an increase in onion prices across various markets within the country.

Onion traders who find themselves stranded at the Benin border for an extended period have issued an appeal to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, urging his intervention for the prompt release of approximately 70 trucks carrying onions from Niger to Ghana via Benin.

As a consequence of the border closure arising from the Niger coup, these trucks and their drivers have remained immobilized at the border for several weeks.

Expressing concerns, the group of onion sellers responsible for over 70 truckloads emphasized that without swift action from the President, there is a significant risk of the onions perishing, leading to a potential surge in onion prices.

Prices of vegetables have seen astronomical increases due to the political tussle in Niger, with bags of vegetable prices ranging between GH¢1,500 to GH¢1,600. Industry players fear the prices could push to GH¢3000- GH¢4000 if the situation is not swiftly handled.

In an interview with the media, the spokesperson for the onion sellers, Yakubu Apendiba explained, “Monday night, they opened about 35 trucks of onions. They have also parked about 45 trucks at the Burkina Faso border. The Ghana Ambassador in Benin visited the truck drivers on Saturday, Monday night they moved to the Burkina Faso border, and some were able to pass through the Benin border.

“But some are still stuck at the Burkina Faso border. Now if you come to the onion market today, it’s not easy, onions which used to be sold at GH¢1,000 to GH¢1,100 are now being sold at GH¢1,500. There’s a lack of onions at other places as well. So we are pleading with the government to help us talk to Burkina Faso’s President so that the trucks will be escorted to Ghana.”

Soldiers in the West African country of Niger announced a coup on national television on July 27.

They said they had dissolved the constitution, suspended all institutions, and closed the nation’s borders.

Niger President Mohamed Bazoum was held by troops from the presidential guard.

He was promised Washington’s “unwavering support” in a call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The coup leaders, on August 7, closed the country’s airspace until further notice, citing the threat of military intervention from their neighbours.

The West African group of countries, ECOWAS, had earlier warned that it could use force if President Mohamed Bazoum was not reinstated by 23:00 GMT on Sunday.

A junta spokesman says Niger’s armed forces are ready to defend the country.

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