The first batch of mini-petrol stations the Beninese government bought to replace illegal streetside petrol stalls at risk of fires, have been put into operation in Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital.
In several districts of Cotonou, these mini-petrol stations are now serving petrol to road users, particularly motorists and certain vehicles.
“The mini-petrol stations make it possible to store and distribute petrol more safely, instead of using petrol stalls, which are a source of fires,” said Fortune Agbo, manager of a mini-petrol station in Fifadji, a populous district of Cotonou.
On Sept. 23, a fire at an illegal petrol warehouse in Seme Krake, a town on the border with Nigeria in Benin’s southeastern department of Oueme, killed at least 35 people and seriously injured dozens.
Since the tragedy, the issue of the smuggled petrol industry has become a more pressing and burning problem for the country.
The deployment of these mini-petrol stations is part of the measures taken by the Beninese government to reorganize the informal sector of petroleum product sales throughout the country.
At a recent press conference in Cotonou, Benin government spokesman Wilfried Leandre Houngbedji said that the government had ordered more than 5,000 mini-petrol stations to prevent illegal trade in urban areas, especially in the country’s major cities.
For the time being, 2,000 mini-petrol stations have already been in use, out of at least the 5,000 ordered.
“These mini-petrol stations will make it possible to cover at least the five major towns in the south of the country. When the rest of the order arrives, it will be extended to every town in the country,” said the spokesman.