Shippers’ Council: ‘CTN Comes With No Cost To The Economy, Importers’
FOLLOWING fears by shippers and freight forwarders that the planned re-introduction of advanced cargo information system, otherwise known as Cargo Tracking Note (CTN), into the country will attract additional cost to them, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has assured that the system will come with no extra cost to the Nigerian economy or the shipper.
Executive Secretary of the (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, who allayed the fears of the stakeholders during a meeting with freight forwarders in Lagos recently, said: “The CTN that was introduced about three years ago brought a lot of delay, and it was not accepted by the industry because it had cost attached. But this one is at no cost to the economy and directly, there is no cost at all to the shippers.”
Bello explained: “The issue is that we want to introduce a new system, advanced cargo information system which is the so-called Cargo Tracking Note (CTN). The issue is whether it will occasion delay, and this is a very vital thing. But we have assured them that it will not occasion delay. It is electronic. The CTN that was introduced about three years ago brought a lot of delay, and it was not accepted by the industry because it had cost attached.
But this one is at no cost to the economy and directly, there is no cost at all to the shippers; that is very important. “We assured them of this and showed them the contract we are to sign and sought their input so we can improve the contract. It is no cost to Nigerian economy; it is no cost to the shipper. They want to know how it affects export, especially when others are operating that. And I think we have been able to answer their questions. But the most important thing is that we have formulated our forum with the shippers and the freight forwarders, which will be done every month.
They have supported the CTN based on what we explained to them that it has no cost attached.” Speaking further in an interview session with journalists at the end of the meeting with freight forwarders, Bello said he had been involved in series of meetings with service providers, government agencies and others involved in ports operation to ensure that any policy change the Council plans has their input. He said: “You know we are democratic and consultative.
We have found out that in our policy, we will really need to consult with our partners and stakeholders and players in the industry. Every decision one will make as a regulator, we want to democratise it; that is play it with the partners and get their buy-in. It is very important that policies are honest and predictable.
You cannot come and change a policy at a go without consultation. That will make for bad regulation. So, we have been consulting, we have been meeting with stakeholders.” Giving insight into the discussion the Council has had with the stakeholders so far, Bello said: “We have gone to terminal operators. We listened to their complaints and we know that we are taking their complaints to the government. Government has responsibility to provide conducive atmosphere for their operations.
It is glaring that some of them are operating under very hard conditions and I think, it is not a good thing, especially as it adds cost to many things at the ports, which is affecting so many things. “We have also brought the complaints we have gotten from the users of their services to their knowledge. One is the complaint in the delay of the process of cargo clearance. We want them to attain 70-80 per cent clearance of goods from the ports. They should take them to off-dock terminals. Port is a transient place and that will reduce the dwell time of cargo. This is the problem we are facing.
We don’t want cargo to stay more than one day necessary at the ports. We also have to encourage them to embrace automation and technology. “The access roads to their terminals, for instance, are in sore states. This will make for long evacuation period of cargo. And government should step in and do what is government’s responsibility. At the same time, the terminals have obligations. They have to position the containers or cargo for examination.
They have to have efficiency. They have to have relevant machinery and plant. So, we are going to start auditing the plants, the machinery they have. We will encourage them to have more. We will sanction them if they don’t have; we want to ensure that things are in accordance with the concession agreement.”
He added: “We are talking with the freight forwarders; we are talking to road haulers associations — the trucker owners. We told them there must be a way out of the connection between the ports and hinterland. The road transport, which is the most dominant modern transport at the port at present, must be sanitised; and I am happy to say that we received tremendous support from these organisations. Very soon, we are going to meet to look for ways to reform them. We can’t shave somebody’s head at his absence.”