The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime has outlined the required fundamentals for the take off of the implementation of the much expected Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) instrument, adjudged essential for the efficient re-engineering of imports coming into the country.
This is even as Jime dutifully explained the delay so far associated with the commencement of the project, noting however that he has implicit confidence in the willingness of the present government to launch the much awaited cargo tracking note.
According to the Council CEO, these are the key processes necessary to drive the instrument and which must first be firmly emplaced and devoid of any conflict to ensure a smooth implementation, adding that in the light of above, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has already approved the contracting of the consortium of expert firms to provide the critical structural framework.
In an exclusive chat with the Council boss, he said he regretted the delay in the implementation so far and assured that the minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Senator Gboyega Oyetola has taken charge of the process.
“What is holding the CTN is that we had gotten to a point where the FEC has given approval for the contracting of the consortium of certain companies to implement the process, but we ran into a bit of a stone wall when the issue of how to structure the legal documents became so complicated that we were not able to complete the process in good enough time for the take off of the project.
While expressing optimism that the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will kick start the project, he said the minister of marine and blue economy has taken charge of the process and is working at achieving its speedy delivery.
“You know when a new administration is in place, some of these efforts sometimes will need to be reappraised…l mean there is now a need for further briefing and that is exactly what we are doing at this stage. So let me say the delay was first and foremost attributed to processes, stages that we needed to go through in order for implementation to start.
“We haven’t quite arrived at that stage, so presently, we are consulting with relevant authorities, all the stakeholders that are involved, particularly the new ministry, the Ministry Of Marine and Blue Economy, which is sector specific and that is good news for us as a matter of fact. I believe what that means is that there will now, be specific attention placed on this very strategic and important sector of the economy. So we are better able to speak directly with our supervising parent ministry to see the need for the implementation of the cargo tracking note. That briefing is ongoing as far as relationship with our parent ministry is concerned.
“I will say that actually, my first interaction with the Honourable Minister, we gave him adequate briefing of the status of the cargo tracking note and he is taking it as one of the most important low hanging fruits, so to speak, of his administration, meaning that he believes it is one of the things that must be implemented very, very quickly.
“So we are working on it, processes are ongoing and l believe that this time, the seriousness that the new administration has brought to bear on the process will be able to roll out the implementation of this important tool of activities in our maritime space.”
Asked if he could be more specific, the chief port economic regulator said it is best to allow the process run its due course; assuring however that the President Tinubu administration is not one to joke with important economic decisions.
“I try not to do too much second guessing on matters such as this so that, in the end we remain focused. Once l speak to a specific deadline, and of course, the next day or two days after you see me, you’ll say ‘well you told me a few days ago that in one month time…’ what l can say to you is that because of the seriousness with which government is approaching this and the manner in which we are hurrying up with the processes, it will take the shortest time possible.
“Keep in mind this is something that has been ongoing for a length of time l really cannot put a finger on, cargo tracking note preceded me, l have been here two years and plus, but l can tell you that we will implement it before the end of this new government looking at the seriousness with which it is renewing processes, that much l am able to confirm.”
Responding to question on his efforts which has succeeded largely in bridging the flares of disputes and conflicts hitherto between sister agencies owing to rivalry, the Council CEO doing otherwise would have encouraged tardiness and divisiveness in government objective, noting that inter agency rivalry is a major disservice.
“I am the first to acknowledge that, in the first few weeks of my arrival, l became immediately aware of the challenging environment in which agencies of government in the maritime space were functioning. I will also like to say that the tendencies is not exclusive to the maritime space, this whole territory protection is something that has become very, very common and sometimes, one is left to wonder if we are not aware that in the end, there is only one government and the common objective of all agencies of government is to assist the government to deliver on its commitment at ensuring that the social wellbeing of the citizenry is taken care of.
“Sometimes l like to point to my background as somebody who has also been in public live so to speak, having been a member of our National Assembly, before coming into office in this capacity, the mindset that l came with from that background is that your first business is to ensure that wherever you are, you are able to be effective and efficient in a manner in which government services are being delivered. That is the first objective of any public officer, and you are not able to do that alone…so collaboration, handshake, partnership…these are key, key components, that has to come together for a successful delivery of the ultimate objective of governance.
“And so, because l came in from that background l met a situation where there was a need for us to quickly extend a hand of friendship to our sister agencies in this sector…we are talking about the Nigerian Ports Authority, we are talking about the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, and all the other agencies, whether it is NIWA, CRFFN, all of the agencies, very, very strategic agencies that if we come together to work, can assist to deliver on a maritime space that is competitive, that one can be very proud to say that we are delivering as far as the quality of services in our maritime domain is concerned.
“So like l said, we extended a hand of friendship, and l am glad that my colleagues in the other agencies not only accepted but even went further… and we instituted a meeting of all of the CEOs of the agencies where we have had in some cases, quarterly meetings, or wherever there is need, where we sit down and do some peer review, speak to each other and most importantly, discuss areas that would otherwise have led to conflicts.”
Jime observed that in reality, such frictions can only be minismised but not totally eliminated.
“Because we have been able to enact that kind of working environment, frictions by and large have not been totally eliminated but has been reduced to the barest minimum. So that is one thing we have done as far as relationship with the agencies are concerned.”
Also asked how inter agency rivalry and conflicts impacted on the job of the NSC as port economic regulator, he said:
“l can say to you that we have developed certain strategies in the industry that allows us to be able to exercise our mandate as port economic regulator. And this of course we did with a view to ensuring efficiency and quality of services in our ports. Further to that, we also ensure that services are delivered in a manner that is cost-effective. That is the advantage of working together with sister agencies because it frees you and allows you to focus on the main reason you are put there in the first place.
“So for the NSC, we are ensuring that businesses conducted is efficient and cost derivative to what we do, that is essential to the exercise of our mandate. We are not able to do that unless we get the support of our sister agencies and indeed, all our stakeholders in the industry, we are talking here about terminal operators, we are talking about shipping companies, we are talking about freight forwarders, all of these bodies working together in harmony.
“Because we now have, should l say, a mindset that says extend your hands and then let people appreciate the fact that the work that you do is actually also important and relevant to the overall, that collaboration amongst you enables you to be able to be more effective. So that essentially is the attitude that were brought to the work that we do here.”
He continued: “The Council has also been setting standards for service delivery and have provided guidelines for the setting of tariffs and harmonization of tariff nomenclature of port-service providers. We are aware that in any business environment, there is bound to be disputes and disagreements so we have equally instituted a complaint handling mechanism.
“We engage in dispute resolution mechanisms in a way that allows us to be able to do it within record time. So today, for most disputes that are reported to the Council, we are able to address them within a period of seven days maximum. The Council also monitors and enforces compliance, so it has helped in reducing the frictions and agitations hitherto experienced between the shippers and the service providers.”