After about 9 months under relatively hard living conditions in the north of Benin we packed our stuff and moved to Togo. The reason for this big step is a structural change in gebana Benin. In other words: the gebana group is not a shareholder of gebana Benin anymore but only a long-term client. Consequently, my full presence was not needed anymore.
After spending some time in Lomé, Togo, in February to find the right home, we started to pack all our stuff! Fortunately, we carefully had kept all the boxes from the previous move and things went quite fast.
But then the truck trouble began! Let me quickly explain what happened because this was unique – and it’s the proof that even if you plan everything in advance, in West Africa things always happen differently! I booked a truck via gebana Togo, 10 days before the truck should have been leaving from North Togo to Parakou, Benin. The plan was that it would arrive in Parakou on Wednesday 27th of March, so we could have loaded the truck on Friday afternoon. On Tuesday 26th I got the confirmation that the truck had left North Togo to Parakou (6h drive) so everything was in order. On Wednesday I got the confirmation that the truck driver was at the border and ready to cross, meaning he would arrive the same day. But he didn’t! Since Wednesday, I hadn’t got any news from the driver... and was unable to reach him. All his phones were offline.
On the date of loading (Friday afternoon) I started to wonder if the truck driver had taken the money pre-financed for his gasoline and actually never left Togo at all. I therefore started to look for other options in Parakou. It is not easy to find a truck with a cover. I made some contacts but nothing concrete. Still no news from the original driver on Saturday morning, so I continued to search for another solution. Finally, I found a container going down to Cotonou (a town in the south of Benin) who agreed to head on to Lomé. We negotiated the price and at about 11 a.m. we started loading. We finished at about 2-3 p.m. when I received a phone call. It was the original driver saying that he just arrived in Parakou.
Luckily the transport went really well and the truck didn’t suffer any mechanical incident (only delays due to the customs and the police). After leaving early afternoon on Saturday, the truck arrived on Sunday 4 p.m. in Lomé and we were so happy to sleep in our bed in Togo on Sunday evening!
Now after a month in Lomé, we are very happy! The house is good, smaller than the one in Benin but with a big garden. Our child can run around and has plenty of space. The city is incredibly developed compared to Parakou: there is a cinema, there is more than one restaurant where you can go without getting sick, only short electricity shortages, and... there is the beach. This is great! Our only concern are the mosquitos (much more present than in Parakou) and that the air condition does not work at home due to very low electric voltage in the neighborhood.
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Smallholders and local producers harvest and refine products of extraordinary quality worldwide. But for many of these producers there is no adequate or stable market. You can buy directly from these producers via the Access to Market Platform and help them to participate in the market. The principle behind this is crowd ordering – a new trade model whereby a number of consumers order a product together so as to achieve a minimum order quantity. We at gebana support the producers with our know-how, and organise the logistics.
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