24 September 2015, Lagos – The Chairman of the Shipping Association of Nigeria, Mr. Val Usifoh, has said that the planned introduction of the cargo tracking note will cost Nigeria about $30m per annum.
In a chat with our correspondent, Usifoh said the projection had been done by shipping companies based on figures per unit of container, per vehicle and for general cargo.
He said this in response to the plan by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to introduce the advanced cargo information system to the country’s port system.
He said, “If the government decides to introduce the CTN, we don’t have a problem with it; but our position is that there is a cost attached. The shipping agent at the point where the cargo is being shipped from will pay so much.
“If it is introduced on container trade alone, and Nigeria is an import dependent nation, our projection is that it will cost $30m per annum; that is our estimation. Who will pay this money? It is not the ships that will bear this cost, it is the cargo. Business is already bleeding.”
Usifoh added that the CTN was introduced in Ghana, but was eventually dropped when stakeholders protested that it would cost them more, adding that in Togo where it was introduced, the cost of freight had gone up by €25 per unit of container.
He said, “In 2010 January, the Federal Executive Council approved the use of the CTN. In Nov 2011, it was abolished because it was discovered that there was no value added. All the money that were collected for about 22 months in dollars nobody accounted for it.
“Now, the same people have come to Nigeria in the 21st century to say we can help you make your cargo secure, coming through a government agency and saying the CTN would incur no additional cost.”
Another maritime expert, Mr. Frank Ojadi, who is also a faculty member of the Lagos Business School, said the CTN would do nothing to facilitate trade flows in the country.
Ojadi said, “The CTN is a security instrument that will do nothing to facilitate trade flows. The only way trade flows can be improved is upgrading our trade procedures and processes. There is no way the CTN can be introduced without incurring costs for the shippers.
“The CTN cannot be verified in absentia, which means the organisation to issue the CTN has to be present at the ports of embarkation that are scattered all over world. Who will pay for this worldwide service or are we going to restrict all imports to Nigeria to specific ports abroad?”
He added that the agent would have to be empowered with the necessary logistics to carry out the verification process.
“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 then does the NSC intend to prevent this?” he queried.
Ojadi called on the NSC to clarify its plan on how the cost of the project would be borne, noting that cases of concealment and false declaration could only be stopped if violators were prosecuted and all imports followed the Form M procedures.
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, however, debunked the allegations that the CTN was a revenue generation project.
He said, “The CTN is necessary for trade facilitation; it is operational all over the world; so, why should Nigeria be an exception? The idea is to block leakages, which other transport documents may not reveal. We are just trying to raise Nigeria to international standards obtainable elsewhere in the world.
“We want Nigerian trade to be based on transparency and openness; it should be in accordance with world best practices. The CTN will ease the manner and cost of doing business.”