Stakeholders in the industry are divided over fresh moves by the Federal Government to reintroduce the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) as mandatory requirement for importation at the nation’s ports.
The Cargo Tracking Note (CTN), which is being championed by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) is a system for collecting documents and processing information, when exporting by sea in order to obtain prior information, to participate in security measures, statistics, and generally in order to participate in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) recommendations on trade facilitation and security.
The scheme was first introduced in 2010 by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). It was first suspended in 2011 and thereafter in 2015 following widespread opposition because of its addition to the cost of doing business.
Speaking with MARITIMETODAY ONLINE, President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Lucky Amiwero, faulted the reintroduction of the CTN, saying the policy cannot be reintroduced without first reversing the current cargo inspection processes at the nation’s ports, which he described as archaic and responsible for the rise in influx of arms and ammunition into the country.
He said, “Our inspection regime is wrong and archaic by allowing import to come into the country without knowing what is coming in, that is why we have experienced the highest number of arms and ammunition into the country. No country is practicing our inspection regime. What they are doing today is pre screening so that before you ship anything into a country, they are aware of what you are bringing.
“Our inspection process has not been redefined. CTN is a security tool that has to do with import and export. It cannot be used until it is redefined and tied to security and it can only be tied to security when it is linked to pre-shipment inspection.
“We are going into contractual agreement with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement Area (AfCFTA) and we are expecting anytime from now to get people to come into this country only for us to start telling them of CTN. Government should not just introduce CTN without tying it to service.”
Amiwero also said the NSC is not empowered by law to champion the CTN. He noted that it is only the Ministry of Finance through Customs that is legally empowered to implement it.
“Under what law is the Shippers’ Council going to bring Cargo Tracking Note? Where is the law that gave the power? If we want to practice CTN, by the provisions of the Act, it has to be Customs through the Minister of Finance,” he said.
On his part, immediate past President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu welcomed the reintroduction of the CTN, saying any policy that would help remove the multiplicity of cargo inspection, delay and extortion at the ports should be encouraged.
He, however, warned against administering the CTN in such a way that it would add to the already high cost of doing business at the nation’s seaports.
“Anything that will redress the anomaly presently at the port that has subjected everybody to multiple checks, extortion and abuse of process is welcome. We all know that the Nigerian factor in shipping had always been under declaration in order to maximise profit and that is what led to multiply checks and balances introduced by Customs and other agencies all in an effort to address that anomaly.
“The only important thing is to make sure that the financial effect does not become a burden to shippers but there is need for us to certify the cargo coming into Nigeria and not to wait until they are released from the port before Customs will now discover tramadol and arms,” he said.