Steve Agbota, [email protected]
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on December 9, 2009, approved the introduction of electronic Cargo Traffic Note (TCN) which was to be supervised by the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and administered by a private firm, Transport and Ports Management Systems Ltd (TPMS) Antaser.
Government’s key objective for introducing the Cargo Tracking Note was to safeguard the seaports from dangerous cargoes including weapons and other prohibited imports at a time when movement of goods and people across international boundaries was becoming a cause for worry to security agencies over probable acts of terrorism.
Unfortunately, due to widespread criticisms by stakeholders in the maritime industry and the organised private sector, CTN was suspended on November 9, 2011.
The reason was that from inception, there were strong indications that the system would not draw extra charges to shippers, specifically importers and exporters. But not too long after, it dawned on all that the proclamation was far from the truth.
Four years after its suspension, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), claimed ownership of the project and reintroduced it in July 2015 as a mandatory requirement for importation into Nigeria.
Since then, CTN reintroduction has faced stiff opposition from importers and ship owners who believe it would curb activities that precipitate the swindling of the Federal Government revenue by ports operators through under declaration of tonnages.
However, Daily Sun gathered that the Federal Government has finally approved the full implementation of the TCN, now to be known as Advanced Cargo Tracking Note (ACTN).
The ACTN is a global initiative to monitor and verify cargoes on transit from port of origin to destination. It will enable the Federal Government earn about N17 billion per annum from all imports into the country. It will also drastically reduce human interface in the port industry, check the importation of contraband goods as well as create a data base for international trade.
Already, African countries including Angola, Benin Republic, Central African Republic, Togo and Cote D’Ivoire have introduced CTN to track cargoes coming into their respective territories.
This was as several stakeholders have backed NSC to kick-start the implementation of the ACTN, saying the implementation will redeem the image of ship owners, shippers and generate more revenue to government’s coffers.
Chairman of the Lagos State Shippers Association, Mr. Jonathan Nicole, said the technology is called Advanced Cargo Information System. He said it is expected to replace a lot of Customs documents for information and cargo clearance.
“It should take care of under declaration as they always say. It will give the exact information of every consignment from the Port of loading. It will help in monitoring the cargo and track it from diversion or vandalisation.
“It can even compute Customs Duty Data which will eliminate under payment of duty. It is a modern technology in cargo handling. If the Politicians will let it work, it will restore the integrity of shippers,” he added.
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Osita Chukwu, said the ACTN will enhance port operations. He said the implementation of the ATCN will make things easier and government will be able to know what is coming into the country and as well know exactly how the cargo could be tracked.
“Cargo Tracking Note will help a lot because there is a payment for it. It will goal a long way not that like somebody will load this and he will tell you is that. There is a payment for each transaction, it will not be business as usual for all these people that are involve to sabotage the nation’s economy. All other countries are using TCN becuase there is a amount you pay. Freight forwarders are only paying for duty and declare goods. Those who are bringing in goods will be involve in this system.
“ATCN is going to improve in the processes of movement of cargoes. It has been running in Nigeria before but those gaint people aborted it becuase they don’t what to pay the money. They don’t want Nigeria to get that money but in their own county is allowed to pay. If you export anything from Nigeria, you must pay
“I think the Shippers Council is not far from what other countries are doing. If they can do it without any additional expenses on cargo clearance, I think it is proper,” he said..
He however urged Shippers Council to ensure that the system works the way it is operated in other countries in order to get maximum results, adding that they should be minimum percentage of compromising the system.