‘Cargo Tracking Note is bound to attract charges, increase port cost’

The Head, Operations Management Department of the prestigious Lagos Business School (LBS), Pan-Atlantic University, Dr. Frank Ojadi has insisted that the planned reintroduction of the controversial Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) will not only attract charges, but also increase the cost of doing business at the nation’s seaports.

Ojadi, who holds a PhD in Transport Economics from the University of Johannesburg said he has carried out extensive research work on Nigerian ports over a period of five years, said he is not convinced by the argument of the NSC that the CTN would be at zero cost to shippers.

Speaking yesterday during a press briefing in Lagos, he said, “The Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) was abolished almost immediately it was introduced in 2010 due to the high cost it imposed on shippers (importers and exporters) and the strong opposition to it.

“It is very strange to hear the NSC assume the full powers of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to re-introduce the CTN. The reasons given by NSC are not convincing since the Nigeria Customs Service has the means and ways of monitoring the risks associated with imports.

“Curiously NSC has been silent on who bears the cost of this scheme. Economic regulation of port operations does not cover issues of this nature. How would the introduction of CTN improve port efficiency? This appears to me to be another taxation which points to increasing the high cost of doing business in Nigeria.”

Ojadi also stated that CTN will not be able to check under-declaration or corruption at the ports as claimed by the NSC.

“Why will CTN succeed in defeating under-declaration if pre-shipment inspection did not achieve that goal? The CTN will be issued by an appointed agent. You cannot write a CTN without inspecting to confirm what has been stuffed into the container. Clean Reports of Inspection (CRI) were issued at foreign ports by appointed agents during the pre-shipment era. I’m not sure I understand why this will be different. During the days of pre-shipment inspection, a Nigerian company once received a container that had in it goods not meant for that company. But the container had supposedly been inspected and a CRI issued.

“The organisation to issue the CTN has to be present at the ports of embarkation which are scattered all over the world. Who will pay for this worldwide service? Or are we going to restrict all imports to Nigeria to specific ports abroad?

“If the exporter abroad has to incur any expenses in getting the CTN, you can be sure it will be passed on to the importer. How will the NSC prevent this?” he queried.

Dr. Ojadi also tasked the NSC to come clean on the modalities for issuing the CTN before shipment is done.

He said, “At what point does the issuing agent verify that the contents of the container tally with the note to be issued? At the embarkation port? At the factory? At the consolidators?

“How will this CTN deal with corruption at the Nigerian end? How would you write a CTN for a container stuffed with rejected heterogeneous items? If you are aiming to stop trade fraud, then you must ensure that all imports follow the Form M procedures and prosecute all cases of concealment and/or false declaration of imports.

The university don said that there are a series of questions to be addressed by NSC, “and it does not seem that NSC has taken time to look at these issues before pushing for the CTN”.

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