Importers fault TPA on tracking of cargo

Dar es Salaam portShipping industry players are up in arms with the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) over a plan by the latter to introduce electronic cargo tracking note (ECTN) for all imported cargo effective September.

In separate interviews with the ‘Daily News,’ shipping and clearing agents complain that the new system will have cost implications likely to make the port of Dar es Salaam uncompetitive compared to others in the region.

“The shipping industry is regulated by Sumatra (Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority) and thus TPA has no jurisdiction to introduce this system.  Stakeholders should have been involved in the process since it will lead to increased costs on them and their customers,” Honorary Secretary of the Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA), Mr Peter Kirigini told the ‘Daily News’.

Adding; “The new system will involve some costs which are to be borne by shippers and importers and eventually the ultimate consumers.” TASAA has also written a letter to TPA informing it that it will disregard the new system and described the move by the ports authority as “illegal and un-enforceable.”

The letter, which has been seen by this paper, has also been copied to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport. “We wish to inform that all our members and port of loading worldwide will be informed to disregard your notice. We furthermore request intervention of Sumatra to resolve this letter,” reads part of the letter to the TPA dated July 12, this year.

Last week, TPA issued a public notice on implementation of the electronic cargo tracking system from September 1, this year, which it said was among others meant to assure availability of accurate statistics on cargo inflows into the country.

“In order to achieve these objectives it has been decided that all imported cargoes, transit cargoes included, will have to be covered by an ECTN as from September 1, this year (date of bill of lading),” TPA said in the notice which was published in a number of newspapers.

TPA said it had entered into ‘service cooperation’ with Antaser Afrique BVBA to provide the electronic cargo tracking note on worldwide level and international network of agents.

“Validated ECTN will be a mandatory document being part of transit custom clearance at Tanzanian ports. Cargoes arriving without ECTN will be blocked for delivery until validation by Antaser,” TPA warned in its statement.

According to TPA, procedures request that ECTN be completed at the loading port for each of Bill of Lading by the shipper or a forwarder. Vice-President of the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA), Mr Edward Urio, said there was need for all players in the industry to be involved before the system become effective.

“All players need to evaluate pro and cons of the new system before it is introduced otherwise our ports will be outcompeted by others in the region. “Any slight increment in costs will make importers move to other ports such as Mombasa in Kenya or Beira in Mozambique,” Mr Urio said in a telephone interview.

An official at Sumatra confided to the ‘Daily News’ that TPA as an operator has no right to introduce or make changes which will have cost implications without involving the stakeholders.
Source: The Daily News, reported by Alvar Mwakyusa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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