Notwithstanding assurances from the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) that the re-introduction of the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) will not come with an additional cost to the cost of clearing goods at the ports, some stakeholders are yet to be convinced that the assurance were not a ploy to get them hooked into botched Note.
CTN was first introduced in Nigeria on December 9, 2009 by the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The scheme was under the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) but was administered by a private firm, Transport and Ports Management Systems Ltd (TPMS) Antaser.
Before its initial introduction, there were assurances that the scheme would not attract additional charges to shippers, namely importers and exporters, but it soon dawned on all that the assertion was far from the truth. CTN attracted various sums ranging from a minimum of 150 Euros to as much as 450 Euros depending on the type and size of cargo.
On November 9, 2011 – after much agitation and complaints by industry stakeholders – the scheme was suspended.
But with the wave of insecurity in the world today and in Nigeria in particular, the NSC reviewed the Note with the intent of re-introducing the document which it claimed will not come with any extra cost to the shippers.
But speaking to newsmen in Lagos, the Managing Director of Stephens Global Services Limited, Comr. Stephen Ibe refuted the claims by the NSC that the document will not come with any additional cost to the shippers saying that there was no there was no service in the Nigerian ports that would ever be given without money exchanging hand.
Ibe believed that even when the NSC bore the cost of the CTN, the cost would eventually found its way into the transaction costs suffered by the importers in such a shrouded manner that the importer would not easily dictate.
According to him,” It is a lie. Cargo Tracking Note, is it note a document? Will it be generated without a paper? The ink you use in the system where you print it out from the computer, is it not money that is being used? Who will do anything for in the ports in the process of cargo clearance that will not demand his money? In Nigerian ports, you talk to somebody, he answers you, you pay, talk more of issuing you cargo tracking note and say you will not pay. It is a lie. It must attract some additional payment.
“This document is going to be generated at the point of origin of the cargo? We are going to pay for it in Dollars, take my word. We may not pay it as freight forwarders, Shippers’ Council may pay, at the end of the day, they will eventually ask people to come and pay or they spread it and put it into the charges for the importers and that is bringing inflation”.
On the guaranteed security that will come with the Note as envisaged by the NSC, Ibe who is the former Deputy National Coordinator of Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNIFFIEC) had this to say,” What kind of security are you talking about? As cargoes are coming into this country today, have you heard of anything that poses a security threat to this country coming into Nigeria through the ports? So, what security are they talking about? As far as I am concerned, I have been in this system for about 30 years, I don’t see anything that relates to security that Cargo Tracking Note will do that will be good to this nation as far as what we are talking about is involved”.
On his own, the National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto said that as far as the CTN did not come with any extra cost, ANLCA would support the re-introduction of the document adding that Nigeria needed the CTN.
“Since there is no extra cost, ANLCA will support the re-introduction of CTN. It is when there is an extra cost that he (NSC boss) will now see ANLCA’s different opinion because we will not accept it. Everywhere in the whole world now, they use CTN, even in some African countries that are not as developed as Nigeria. It has security implications and also it will help the Federal government to generate more revenue especially where you under declare cargoes, people will not do that again because the Advanced Cargo Declaration gives the customs first hand information about what is in your cargo from your shipper directly unlike the one we give them which is the bill of lading or the one that has been doctored in the name of manifest. This one supersedes the manifest, so it has its superior advantage”, he explained.
On the claim that there has not been any cargo imported into the country through the nation’s ports that posed a security threat to the country, he said,” Whoever is saying that may have forgotten history. I remember there were two cases where we have arms and ammunitions that were shipped by an Iranian where some Nigerians actually conspired with them. They actually passed through our border post.
“We also had a situation where some psychotropic substance, we call it drugs came through our borders and was trailed by the NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency) before they were arrested at the consignee’s place. The other thing is that after the 9/11, every country began to think about the security implication of seeing that you have an Advanced Cargo Declaration of every consignment that is coming into your country so that you know that you are secured and besides that, it is a precautionary measure”.
On why the terminal operators and shipping companies were kicking against the re-introduction of CTN, the ANLCA spokesman stated that,” it is because they don’t want a situation where the perceived extra cost go to their head because it will be deducted from their freight. Maybe, that is why they are kicking against it but we never know until we hear from the shipping association because they have an association. I won’t be able to know their mind set. What I know is that it is good for this country provided it is not going to have extra cost”.
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