THE immediate past Board of Trustees Chairman of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), Mr. Christopher Banye has said that the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN), a scheme introduced by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) a few years ago, has not done much to ameliorate delays associated with under-declarations experienced in the cargo clearance processes at Nigerian ports.
Banye who is also a retired Customs Comptroller described the CTN as insignificant, saying that it does not tell much, especially as importers are now groaning under delays experienced in the clearance of goods.
The Customs retired Comptroller, while speaking to newsmen recently, said the only information provided by the CTN is the number of containers a ship is bringing into the country from another foreign port.
“CTN does not help the clearance procedure. It only tells us that this is what the ship is carrying as quantity, not the content of what the ship is carrying. It does not actually help in the cargo clearance process and this is why in my opinion, it doesn’t really tell us much.
“But then, on the route, if hijackers attack a vessel on the high seas and they tamper with cargo, the tracking note will trigger off, so we don’t need to wait until the vessel arrives before we know about the distress call.
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“Customs have had to rely on ship manifest which is submitted electronically. When it comes to the declaration, the tracking note does not really help much.
“There is so much delay at the port, but you cannot trace it to one single agency. it is multi-faceted and a lot of agencies are involved. You have to position your container for examination and this causes delay, and this is where the cargo tracking doesn’t solve the issue.
“But if we had cargo tracking and scanning, some of the delays would not be there. Also, these contacts and handshakes across tables would not be there.
“In some countries, as the ship arrives and containers are being dropped, it is scanned immediately and placed on the truck for an exit,” the AREFFN chieftain explained.
It would be recalled that three years ago, the Shippers’ Council had said CTN will assist the Nigeria Customs Service in its risk mitigation on imports, enhance and block revenue leakages via under-declaration at the ports.
Cargo Tracking Note as a security measure which was introduced about four years ago by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is to ensure safety and security of goods shipped from one part of the world to another.
The regulation requires shippers to have CTN accompanying all shipments.
It stipulates that shippers must obtain a Cargo Tracking Note from the appointed representative at all ports around the world.