On 14 January this year, the Head of State of Benin, His Excellency Dr Thomas Boni Yayi and Vincent Bolloré, Chairman of Bolloré Group inaugurated the brand new Central Railway Station of Cotonou. This was followed on March 19 by the groundbreaking ceremony of the railway rehabilitation works linking Cotonou and Parakou, attended by the Heads of State of Benin and Niger, and a delegation of the Bolloré Group led by Michel Roussin. The forward march of the rebirth of Benin railway sector continues with the announcement of the proceeding of the intercity passenger train between Cotonou and Pahou in the coming weeks.
This dynamism experienced by the railway sector in Benin echoed beyond national boundaries or beyond the sub-region. A French newspaper fame across the Atlantic, with a print-run of hundreds of thousands of copies, became interested and dispatched on 5 and 6 May a team to meet the players in this sector.
Interview with the strategic partner of Benin railway project (the Bolloré Group), visit to the Central Railway Station of Cotonou, train ride on the Cotonou – Pahou section, interviews, photo sessions … were at the center of the reporters stay.
With Beninese hospitality, punctuated by “good arrival, welcome,” media men could appreciate the nostalgia that the decline of rail activity has generated among the population, accustomed to seldom seeing a train per week. The rare train rides are an event for local residents rushing to look at what formerly helped make the stations and their immediate vicinity the trade points and melting pots. “If some neighborhoods have been able to grow and get almost a city status, they owe it to the railway stations that have been established for train running,” told Pahou station manager in an interview with team reporters. “The dynamics do always exist and the former OCBN has skilled human resources to support the recovery,” he said.
With the signing of the MoU by Benin and Niger designating the Bolloré Group as a strategic partner with 40% shares in BENIRAIL, there are new futures for the train in Benin.