Benin - Transportation
In 2002, Benin had 578 km (359 mi) of narrow-gauge railroad. The Benin-Niger Joint Railway and Transport Organization, a public corporation, operates the passenger and freight railroad. The main line runs north from Cotonou to Parakou, with a branch to Segboroué in the west. The eastern line runs from Cotonou to Porto-Novo and Pobé.
Of Benin's 6,787 km (4,217 mi) of roads (excluding tracks), in 2002 only about 1,357 km (843 mi) are paved. The major roads are the coastal highway linking Benin with Lagos in Nigeria and Lomé in Togo; the road from Cotonou to Parakou (terminus of the railroad) and its extension via Kandi to Malanville on the Niger River; and the road north from Tchaourou that links Benin with Burkina Faso. In 2000, Benin had about 103,400 passenger cars and 96,600 commercial vehicles.
Regular transportation services from Parakou to Malanville and thence to Niamey (in Niger), either by road or, in the season when the Niger River is navigable, by river steamer, are important for the movement of produce to and from Niger via Cotonou, Benin's one port. Until 1965, the port was serviced by a wharf built in 1891. In 1965, a new deepwater port, constructed with French and European Development Fund assistance and capable of handling 1 million tons annually, was opened. In the mid-1980s, the port was expanded to handle 3 million tons a year. Landlocked Niger has a free zone in the port area of Cotonou. Because of overcrowded conditions at the port of Lagos, Cotonou has served as a relief channel for goods destined for Nigeria. It also serves as the chief port for Niger. There is boat traffic on the lagoons between Porto-Novo and Lagos, Nigeria, as well as on the rivers. Benin has no merchant marine.
In 2001, there were five airports, one of which has a paved runway, Cadjehoun Airport. Located at Cotonou, Cadjehoun Airport, has direct international jet service to Accra, Niamey, Monrovia, Lagos, Ouagadougou, Lomé, and Douala, as well as connections to other West African cities. Direct services also link Cotonou to Paris. International airlines include UTA and Air Afrique. There is a major airport at Parakou, and airfields of lesser importance at Natitingou, Kandi, and Abomey. Transports Aériens du Bénin (TAB), offering domestic services to Parakou, Natitingou, Djougou, Savé, and Kandi, and abroad to Lagos, Lomé, Ouagadougou, and Niamey, was founded in 1978. Benin also has a share in Air Afrique. In 2001, 46,400 passengers flew on domestic and international flights.