Cameroon: Contraband Fuel Gains Steam After Petroleum Price Increase

The dealers who operate the popular “funge” business fear a surge in extortion from military officers

By Synthia Lateu

According to Daily Trust, smuggled petrol from Nigeria floods over Cameroon, Benin, Togo and Niger

Some Cameroonians are turning to contraband fuel from neighbouring Nigeria following the government’s decision on 31st January 2023, to increase petroleum prices from 630 to 730 FCFA for Super while Gazole rises from 545 to 720 FCFA.

Contraband fuel is sold in several parts of Cameroon. A dealer in the South West Region whose name we cannot disclose explains that the supplies in Buea come from Nigeria, passing through Idinau and Limbe to get to Buea.

He furthers that the route is often hard to cross due to the presence of security forces along the borders and foresees greater challenges with the increase in petroleum prices. “With the way things are going on now, especially with the increase in the price of Super, we will face a lot of difficulties because I know that there will be an increase in violence and extortion from military officers with the aim just to protect the home market which is Super because if they don’t do that, people will decide to come within the sector of funge which is a little bit cheaper,” he said.

According to Daily Trust, smuggled petrol from Nigeria floods over Cameroon, Benin, Togo and Niger. A 2021 report by the Daily Trust reports that the porous Nigerian borders, spanning over 17,000 kilometres, make it possible for this illicit petrol trade to flourish for so long despite deliberate actions by security operatives.

According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) data, petrol smuggling became more pronounced in December 2017 when the expected daily petrol demand shot from 35 million per day consumption pattern to over 55 million.

The “funge” seller in Buea disclosed that the price frequently fluctuates depending on the security level “for some time now, petrol was FCFA 4500 this funge, for 10 litres and now with the increase in military bases, within the North West and South West, things have been very difficult. A litre of petrol, in the last two months, was FCFA 500 per litre and 10 litres was FCFA 5000. But as time goes on, things keep getting worse and worse and litre became FCFA 550. Within a space of one-month things have also metamorphosed and now we have 10 litres of petrol for FCFA 6500 for Funge.”

The popular funge, an illegal petrol business is gaining more grounds in Buea

The dealer explains that illegal fuel is preferred by clients owing to its affordable and accessibility “some people don’t like to go and waste time there at the petrol station to pump and some people believe that at the petrol station, they pump but the air inside the tang and not fuel so they want to see what they are putting inside their tang.”

According to a recent report by Deutsche Welle (DW), a German public state-owned international broadcaster, smugglers are having a field day selling Nigerian fuel at cheaper rates than the conventional petrol stations in Cameroon.

The Deutsche Welle (DW) reports that although the exact volume of smuggled Nigerian petrol to Cameroon is not known, local media reports in Cameroon put the ‘black market’ illegal trade at $ 5 million every year.

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