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Fresh concerns over reintroduction of cargo tracking note at ports

By Adaku Onyenucheya
16 November 2022   |   4:00 am
There are concerns over the reintroduction and implementation of the controversial International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) at the ports, as part of moves to tackle illicit trade importations and to generate revenue for the Federal Government.

PHOTO: SUNDAY AKINLOLU

There are concerns over the reintroduction and implementation of the controversial International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) at the ports, as part of moves to tackle illicit trade importations and to generate revenue for the Federal Government.

Recall that the multimillion naira ICTN was first introduced into Nigeria in 2010, during the late President Yar’Adua/Jonathan administration.

The contract was signed between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and a Belgian firm, TPMS-Antaser-Afrique and operated for one year before the former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, terminated it in 2011 on the grounds that the scheme was hurting businesses.

Apart from that, the scheme was enmeshed in allegations of fraud, which necessitated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to launch an investigation into the reported €40 million that had accrued before termination of the scheme, which was unaccounted for.

But stakeholders in the maritime sector are calling for the reintroduction of the scheme, particularly, as illicit trade importation is on the upswing.

The National President, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Frank Ogunojemite, said there was a need for Nigeria to have a relationship with most of the countries where cargoes are being shipped.

“We must have a collaboration with countries of origin of these shipments, that would give us revenue and security, otherwise people would continue to make wrong declarations.

“Cargo Tracking Note is not a new thing. It was initiated by America in 2011 when they had an attack. It was later that they asked the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on what to do to safeguard other countries. IMO later directed other countries to adopt the programme,” he explained.

Ogunojemite blamed inter-agency rivalry and policies, among other things, as reasons the ICTN has not been put to use.

He noted that NPA was first mandated to put the ICTN to work, before the Federal Government directed that NSC should handle it.

He, however, called for the re-introduction of ICTN to protect the nation’s border and generate money for the government.

“But how do we monitor this when there are allegations of fraud against some people in certain quarters and the government has not done anything about it. For me, if they can stop inter-agency rivalry and clean up that area, they should bring it back,” he said.

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Emmanuel Jime, revealed that the council got presidential approval for the implementation of the ICTN.

According to Jime, the presidential approval for the implementation of the ICTN has been obtained and the Ministry of Transportation has been given the responsibility of making sure the procurement processes are conducted in a manner that is consistent with international best practices.

“We are waiting for the procurement practices to commence, but I want to assure that the directive given from the presidency is to make sure that anything and everything is fine with regards to this implementation of ICTN and ensure it is done in a way that will answer to the demand of International best practices,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said the ICTN, if put to work, will clean the system of every corrupt element and help to block areas of revenue leakages, thereby ensuring seamless marine operations and help in trade facilitation.

“The Cargo Tracking Note is good to ensure seamless marine operations particularly with regards to integrity issues around cargo clearing, inspection, wrong declarations and some of these malpractices going on in the maritime sector.

“The CTN is something that is universal; it is used in many countries, that is the best practice and there is nothing wrong in adopting it. But the government needs to let the people know that it is not about revenue generation ventures.

“We need to clean the system, so that more decent people can do business. This is a sector where those who are cutting corners are making more money than those who are doing the right thing,” he said.