Audio: French / Subtitles: English
ESSENCE DU BÉNIN is a documentary project that explores the vast network of illegal trafficking of gasoline (essence, in French) from Nigeria to Benin, a country that has not enough stations to cover a population whose main mode of transportation is the motorcycle. Given this need, a succulent business opportunity emerged. In a few decades the sale of gasoline has become the first –under the table– economic activity. Major traffickers are now the leaders of everything. Politicians have surrendered to their will and the police turns a blind eye in exchange for a few CFA, the Beninese currency. Women, disabled people, university students and even children depend on this activity, as it is one of the few alternatives of work which enables them to pull their families up.
All of them are exposed to danger on a daily basis. Explosions induced by small accidents occur often and have caused hundreds of deaths in recent years while the harmful gases coming from gasoline are damaging people's health. The tentacles of the illegal network are embedded in every corner of the Beninese society who cannot cope with a problem that extends way beyond its borders on its own. The only possible solution would be that all players involved took up their role to put these activities on hold. Unfortunately, there is no short-term solution in sight.