Electronic cargo tracking system from January

Kathmandu, December 9

The government is all set to introduce electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS) from January for reliable delivery of Nepal-bound cargoes via Indian transit.

The ECTS will control the turnaround time of the shipping line containers and is expected to reduce the high demurrage and detention charges being incurred by the Nepali importers due to delay in returning the containers to the shipping lines.

Shipping liners normally provide 21-day turnaround period, which means that the Nepal-bound cargo containers that leave the Kolkata port must be returned to the shipping liners within 21 days after unloading the goods in Nepal. However, traders are often slapped demurrage charges as they miss the deadline of the shipping liners due to delay from Indian Railway, congestion in dry port, among other reasons.

To end this perennial problem, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) is going to introduce ECTS, which will monitor the Nepal-bound cargo containers. The MoC, with the support from the Asian Development Bank, has already selected the vendor to instal electronic device on the cargo containers bound for Nepal. Starting from January, traders can take this service voluntarily for the first 90 days but after three months, it will be mandatory for the Nepal-bound containerised cargoes, according to Ravi Shanker Sainju, joint secretary at the MoC.

Traders would have to pay for $45 per container to obtain this service and those willing to take this service would have to inform the Kolkata customs during the Customs Transit Declaration at the port customs office. The port customs places additional locks on Nepal-bound cargoes to ensure that the goods imported for Nepal are not sold in India. However, the port will not place additional lock on those cargo containers that take ECTS service. Moreover, the provision requiring purchase of additional insurance in India on import of sensitive goods will not be compulsory thereafter, according to Sainju.

“We can expect that the cost and time of international trade will be minimised once the system comes into implementation in full-fledged manner.”

The Kolkata port customs, consul general of Nepal in Kolkata and the border customs points of India and Nepal would be able to simultaneously monitor the containers in which the electronic device are installed.

After this system comes into force, the Indian government will also allow the movement of Nepal-bound cargoes to the nearest rail head at Jogbani. Nepal has also proposed allowing ferry of Nepal-bound cargo via rail to Nautanwa (nearest rail head from Bhairahawa), according to Sainju. Currently, Indian Railway can ferry Nepal-bound cargoes via rail to the only rail linked Inland Clearance Depot (ICD), Birgunj. After enforcement of the ECTS, Nepal-bound containerised cargoes can be ferried to Jogbani from Kolkata and then to Nepal via road, which will lower the transportation cost because rail transportation cost is cheaper, according to Sainju.

He further said that the ECTS will also be enforced on the Nepal-bound cargoes that come through the Visakhapatnam port.