Testing of ECTS begins

Kathmandu, January 15

The vendor appointed by the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) to instal the electronic chips in containerised cargoes from Kolkata port has started testing the electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS) from Sunday.

Last week, the Cabinet meeting had approved the modality of ECTS submitted by the MoC.

According to Ravi Shankar Sainju, joint secretary at the MoC, tests of electronic cargo tracking for the cargo movement via road from the Kolkata port began from Sunday and it will be initiated in rail transport in the near future.

Sainju believes that the time consumed in the transit will be substantially minimised through this monitoring system. The system will be voluntary for traders for the initial 90 days. During the initial three-month period, MoC will also approach the Indian government for amendment in transit treaty to remove the provision of additional one-time lock (AOTL) on Nepal-bound cargo containers based on the report of trial period.

“After the Nepal government enforces ECTS mandatorily, the AOTL will not be required as the containers can be easily tracked by the Indian customs and concerned authorities in Nepal,” Sainju asserted.

Kolkata port customs imposes additional lock for Nepal-bound cargo for security reasons and to ensure that the imported goods are not sold in India. On the other hand, the mandatory provision to purchase insurance in India on import of sensitive goods will be removed after the new

system is enforced, according to Sainju.

Traders would have to pay $45 per container to obtain this service and those willing to take the service would have to inform the Kolkata customs during the Customs Transit Declaration at the port customs office.

The ECTS is expected to control the turnaround time of the shipping line containers and reduce the high demurrage and detention charges being paid by Nepali importers due to delay in returning the containers to the shipping lines. Shipping liners normally provide a 21-day turnaround period. This means that the Nepal-bound cargo containers, after moving out of Kolkata port, must be returned to shipping liners within 21 days after unloading the goods in Nepal.

But traders are often slapped with demurrage charges as they miss the deadline of shipping liners due to delay from Indian Railways, congestion in dry port, among other reasons.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has already agreed to allow bringing the containerised Nepal-bound cargoes to the nearest rail head at Jogbani. Considering Nepal’s proposal, Indian government has also green signalled to allow ferrying Nepal-bound cargoes via rail to Nautanwa (nearest rail head from Bhairahawa), according to Sainju.

Currently, Indian Railways can ferry Nepal-bound cargo via rail to the only rail-linked Inland Clearance Depot (ICD), Birgunj. After enforcement of the ECTS in full fledged manner, 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.

Sainju further said that the ECTS will also be enforced for the Nepal-bound cargoes arriving through the Visakhapatnam port.