NIAMEY (Reuters) - Nigerian customs officials have stopped trucks from crossing north into land-locked Niger, blocking all imports, including food stuffs and building materials, Niger transport unions said on Thursday.
There has been no official explanation for the three-day blockage, which has paralysed vehicles heading north but not those heading south or prevented people from crossing the 1,500 km (940 mile) border between the two West African countries.
Niger has huge uranium reserves and hopes to become the world’s No. 2 exporter but, for now, it remains impoverished and is likely to soon feel the pinch as it relies heavily on imports, transporters warned.
“No truck transporting goods is leaving Nigeria to go to Niger. It is because of the customs men of that country (Nigeria),” said Sani Askia, spokesman for the truckers union in Zinder, a Nigerien town on the border with Nigeria.
“But people are coming and going freely,” he added.
Niger imports cereals, cement, fertilisers, building materials and other manufactured goods from Nigeria. Beans and cattle are sent in the other direction.
Issaka Sido, a member of the transport union in Maradi, another Nigerien border town, also confirmed the blockages but said that Nigerian vehicles were free to return home.
Niger’s government is due to issue a statement on the issue later on Thursday.