Ivory Coast Western Cocoa Regions Plagued by Illegal Roadblocks

The setting up of illegal roadblocks, including by military and police forces, has surged since the beginning of the year in parts of western cocoa growing regions of top producer Ivory Coast, according to a report.

A total of 160 roadblocks, of which only three were authorized by the West African nation’s authorities, were recorded since January by the International Rescue Committee in five districts, the New York-based non-governmental organization said in a report.

The IRC observed a “proliferation of the checkpoints” in the cocoa-growing region near to Liberia, it said. IRC reported as many as 50 and 69 illegal checkpoints in the districts of Duekoue and Bangolo respectively, while others were observed in the districts of Man, Danane and Kouibly.

The government of Ivory Coast, which produces about 37 percent of the world’s cocoa supplies, last year drew up a list of 33 legal checkpoints across the country. Money taken illegally by soldiers and police from cocoa transporters reached an estimated 10 billion CFA francs ($19 million) during the 2011-12 harvest season, according to the Transport Fluidity Observatory, a government agency.

Ivory Coast said last year it aimed to halve the loss this season by setting up a partnership between the cocoa regulating body, the Coffee Cocoa Council, the state Anti-Racketeering Unit and the Transport Fluidity Observatory to remove illegal roadblocks.

Most of the unauthorized checkpoints were manned by military, paramilitary and police forces, IRC said. A group of traditional hunters, also known as Dozos, set up 33 illegal positions, the majority of them in Duekoue and Bangolo.

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