Mr Fred Asiedu Dartey, the Head of Freight and Logistics at the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), has revealed that transit truck drivers who got stranded at the Niger borders have to resort to menial jobs for survival.
Mr Dartey said since the drivers could not continue their journey into Niger to offload the goods and make some money, their only way of survival was to rely on menial jobs.
He revealed this during a media engagement spearheaded by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority’s (GPHA’s) media platform, “Eye on Port.”
He said among the complaints the GSA received from the truck drivers were the risk of possible non-payment for their trip, as well as the destruction of the goods and their vehicles.
Some of the drivers complained that the heavy rains had dissolved part of the salt they were transporting, causing their vehicles to rust over the period they had been stucked at the boarder, he said.
He disclosed that in some cases, Ghanaians at the border were subjected to hostile treatment from locals who viewed Ghana, a member of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) as a political enemy.
Mr Dartey noted that whereas Ghana officially exported salt, rice, sugar, flour, and tea, among others, to Niger, Nigeriens exported onion, beans, millet and groundnut to Ghana.
Mr Ziad Hamoui, the National President of the Borderless Alliance, said the Niger border closure presented the Sahel area with dire food security challenges.
Mr Hamoui stated that in April, there was a publication in the World Food Programme that Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger were considered hunger hotspots of more than 50 per cent; therefore, the situation posed a real threat to food security, which could sometimes degenerate into unrest and destabilisation, and fuel the fire for disagreements across borders.
Developments like the Niger situation must be a wakeup call for states to reconsider national strategies for food security, stressing that they were yet to see some countries facing volatility in prices ask themselves about the sufficiency of certain strategic food items they consume in their countries, he said.
He asked whether Ghana was doing something to maintain a buffer or a minimum amount of manufacturing its own foods rather than relying on imports from elsewhere?
He said the Alliance was therefore pleading with the various leaders to reconsider the border closure situation with cognisance to its significance to trade, as it would have socio-economic consequences.
There was a military coup in July in Niger that toppled the then-President Mohamed Bazoum’s democratically elected government, bringing disruption to trade activities as the landlocked country’s borders were shut, leading to the stranding of truck drivers with their loaded goods.