Monday, November 05, 2012

Corruption an African Syndrome?

On the 31st of October 2012 I made my first visit to Benin Republic by road via Seme border. I will like to share my experience with you. Road Network I noticed that the road that leads from Nigeria to Benin is in a state of disrepair. I was shocked that a road connecting an international boundary could be in such a condition. In fact, at the crossing itself the road was not only un-tarred it could easily have passed for a road in a village in Nigeria. However, I noted with delight that the road between Seme Border and Port Novo was quite good. It even had a portion for motorcycles. Most of the bike riders also used helmets. Immigration services When I got to the border, I was given the option of entering via bush path (which appears to be the norm or going via the official route). I insisted I was going to do the right thing. I had been briefed earlier about the how much I was to pay to the Nigerian Immigrations (N500) and the Benin Immigrations (N500) and also to pay (N1000) for the Yellow card. At the border I met a tout (not again) who attempted to “assist” me and also promised to get things done faster and at half the “official costs”. I declined and went to meet the immigration officers who were in uniform. As usual the “Naija” guys were friendly and I paid 500Naira at 2 different desks. I was not given any receipt neither was the payment recorded in a book or on a system. There was no way I could determine legally how much I was to pay. I was also not sure if the money will be remitted to the Federal Government. I wonder why we still encourage corruption by allowing poor systems. Benin Republic End The female immigration official was less friendly and helpful but also collected N500 which no receipt was issued to me. Then 3 men (who were not in uniform and sitting beside the Immigration kioks) who claimed to be representing Police, State Security Service and Customs asked me to pay N 1200. This was a payment I was not informed about earlier and insisted I was not going to pay as it was not in my budget. They tried to explain to me that I was paying it because I am a 1st timer and it is a one-off payment. After about 30 minutes delay I was asked to pay N500 (also without receipt). Moving into the town we meet with about 4 check points manned by men in civilian outfits. They all asked for N500 each but I ended up giving N100 at 2 check points and refused to pay at the other 2. For once, I almost thought I was still in Nigeria. Yet Police in uniform were looking from a distance. Is corruption a citizen of west Africa? (To be continued)