In a bid to curb proliferation of arms and increase in banditry across the nation, President Mohammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi to reintroduce Cargo Tracking Notes (CTN).
The growing spate of insecurity in the country by way of banditry, kidnappings and restiveness fueled by easy access to guns has led the presidency into shopping for ideas to beef up security, hence, convinced that CTN could play a crucial role in enabling the nation address insecurity issues.
Amaechi has further directed the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) to commence preparation to undertake the responsibility of administering CTN as it takes off.
The Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) or the ECTN (Electronic Cargo Tracking Note), 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.
Shippers’ Council has been encouraged to introduce the system in a way that shouldn’t add to the cost of doing business at the ports, but enable the nation to track imports from ports of origin to drastically reduce import of arms.
Recall that in 2017 alone, 2671 pump-action rifles were intercepted at Nigerian seaports. The guns were legally registered for export in Turkey as pump-action rifles for hunting but the manifests were changed in Morocco to become steel doors to enable the container gain entry into Nigeria.
With CTN, however, Nigeria would have been able to see the original manifests from Turkey and intercept the guns before the consignments arrived in Nigeria.
Twenty-four African countries presently use CTN and these nations include; Angola, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana and Guinea.
Others include; Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Togo.
Although CTN has had two stints at Nigerian ports previously, under the administration of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and later NSC, Nigeria would have to prequalify the possible companies via a bidding process.
Speaking on the reintroduction of CTN, a maritime lawyer, technocrat and Director of Education and Research in the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Dr. Alban Igwe said CTN remains the best answer to issues of anomalies and security challenges in the country.
Igwe explained that this was because CTN will improve the security and safety of the supply chain as it will profile cargoes being imported into the country.
“The objective is to improve the security and safety of the supply chain and help us see the profile of products we are bringing in. It will help us know the origin and destination of cargoes and help us know our enemies,” he said.
Besides insecurity, CTN has also been described as the best platform in checking revenue leakages in imports as well as obtaining information about the content of the cargoes.
CTN will address situations in which importers under-invoice their goods from the suppliers at the point of purchases to pay less duties. The platform will check the trend to ensure manifests are not tampered with by ships for the purpose of cheating on GT.
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, whose Council is to handle CTN describes it as “another instrument that will add tremendously in shipping development”.
According to Bello, “It will boost the revenue of the government in customs revenue collection in the sense that it will abate under – declaration and concealment. It will boost the revenue of NPA because there will be no more alteration of the manifests. It will boost the revenue of NIMASA because under – declaration on the weight of ships will not be there any longer.
CTN is also a veritable source of data and some economic experts describe this as the best quality of the electronic based platform.
“You will know everything that is coming into your country. We have had many African countries having this because it is the initiation of the Union of African Shippers Council (UASC),” tHassan Bello hinted about CTN last year.