Truckers Stranded at Mali’s Borders as ECOWAS Sanctions Bite Harder

Several truck drivers are stranded at land borders into Mali as the West African country neighbours effect a sanction declared by the regional bloc over a military junta attempt to extend its rule in Mali.

The Economic of West African States (ECOWAS) had imposed sanctions on Mali this month after Colonel Assimi Goïta military-led interim government said it planned to delay democratic elections in the country by at least four years.

Goita had agreed to an 18-month transition to civilian rule weeks after the coup that ousted elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in August 2020. Keita died this month. However, the junta had since reneged on most of its agreement with the bloc.

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The latest ECOWAS sanctions include the closure of the landlocked country’s borders and are aimed at squeezing the finances of one of the world’s poorest economies.

Madou Sidibe, who drives a cement truck, says he should have been home by now had he delivered cement to a client in Mali. He is instead stranded at a dusty border crossing in Tengrela crossing in northern Ivory Coast.

SIdibe has been there for six days. He is not alone. There are more than a hundred trucks lined up on the road leading to the border post at Tengrela and dozens arrive every day.

At Tengrela, drivers burn time drinking tea, playing cards, cooking charcoal fires, or snoozing on cots in the shade. Local traders sell them cigarettes and coffee.

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A few drivers, short on money and food, abandoned their trucks and returned to Mali on their own.

Tengrela’s truck queues suggest a possible supply crunch in the gold and cotton-producing country that relies heavily on imports for goods up and down the supply chain.

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