The International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) was first initiated by the US Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, as a preventive security measure.
The UN Security Council later mandated the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to adopt it as a security framework for enhancing the protection of international shipping and prevention of movement of dangerous cargoes.
According to the IMO, when implemented by countries, the ICTN will allow governments to monitor incoming and outgoing ships through real time generation of advance information on ships involved in international voyages.
We recall that, the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria, had at its session on December 9th, 2009 given due approval to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to operate the controversial Cargo Tracking Note (CTN).
But, the approval was later cancelled to enable a review. In 2012, another approval was given, but with emphasis on cost consideration.
At the onset of CTN, the sole authorised representative was Transport and Ports Management System (TPMS) Ltd (TPMS Antaser Afrique).
After the contract with the TPMS was cancelled and the Nigerian Ports Authority was directed to hands- off the CTN superintendence, the Federal Government later directed the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) to handle the project leading to its reintroduction in 2015, but this was later suspended again owing to unresolved technical hitches.
Since then, taking custody of the CTN scheme has been a battle between both the NPA and the Nigerian Shippers Council.
NPA had at the on-set of CTN collection in January, 2010 highlighted the benefit of the CTN to include: the control of freight charges; ability to access advance information on all cargoes which made actual advance billing possible; introduction of one point payment system that reduced time and energy in clearing goods, thereby making a less-than-24 hour clearing possible.
Other benefits include accessibility to real time on line central information that makes statistics for decision making possible on a real time basis rather than historical basis; having information on cargo before it is even on the vessel; improvement on the security of port infrastructure, vessels and personnel; certification of ports by the USA and European nations and the Green Status given to port infrastructure, vessel; and accruable value added benefits to the national economy.
And after a long silence, the immediate past the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Ameachi tried again to resuscitate the CTN through the Shippers’ Council. But this attempt also hit the rock, as some parties who felt cheated went to court to stop it.
However, in December 2021, during his first media chat, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council; Mr Emmanuel Jime assured that the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) will be re-introduced in a matter of weeks.
He had told a select number of senior journalists that time was ripe for the reintroduction of the ICTN, even as he assured that, the ICTN, which was once operated in the Nigerian Ports Authority would be at very minimal cost.
Jime also disclosed that the Council was done with identifying the handlers of the ICTN. “Time has now come for the full implementation of the International Cargo Tracking Note, we have so progressed with this particular effort that the promoters of this platform have already been identified, due diligence has also been conducted, we are now at the stage where we will in a few weeks from now announce the winner of that particular allotment and this ultimately begins the commencement of the implementation of the International Cargo Tracking Note”, he stated.
After the long wait, the Federal Executive Council has again approved the introduction of an Electronic Cargo Tracking Note, again to the Shippers Council.
“It is expected that this scheme will generate revenues to the Nigerian government ranging from about 90 million dollars per annum to a peak of about 235 million dollars per annum,” the Minister said.
However, unlike in the previous arrangements, the CTN will now involve tracking of oil exports. This is addition to tracking all imports into Nigeria.
There is no doubt that the advantages of CTN far outweigh its disadvantages. But the Nigerian Shippers’ Council needs to be open in the implementation process.
We advise that the Council should watch out for the issues that truncated previous attempts at introducing the scheme. Such issues include – ambiguity about the cost implication to importers, the agitation that CTN will add to the already cumbersome process of cargo importation and delivery.
Going forward, we hope that the Shippers’ Council will be opened about details of the contract, including who is doing what. We urge this because we remember the issues that led to the suspension of the first try at CTN.
We recall that the National Assembly kicked against it, because of lack of openness, especially about the financial implication of the scheme.
Shipping Position Daily was told that the CTN attracted various sums, ranging from €150 to as much as €450, depending on the size and type of the cargo.
Allegations of massive corruption was one of the reasons that brought the scheme to an abrupt end in 2011.
Recent development, particularly the court ruling which convicted the brain behind the CTN implementation in Nigeria should guide the Shippers Council as it goes ahead with yet another experience in Cargo Tracking Note.
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