MULTIMODAL TRANSPORT UTILIZATION IN MARITIME SECTOR (4)
The contents of the MTD shall include:
(i) The general nature of the goods, the leading marks necessary for identification of the goods, an express statement, if applicable, as to the dangerous character of the goods, the number of packages or pieces, and the gross weight of the goods or their quantity otherwise expressed, all such particulars as furnished by the consignor.
(ii) The apparent condition of the goods
(iii) The name and principal place of business of the multimodal transport operator (MTO)
(iv) The name of the consignor
(v) The consignee, if named by the consignor
(vi) The place and date of taking in charge of the goods by the MTO
(vii) The place of delivery of the goods
(viii) The date or the period of delivery of the goods by the MTO if expressly agreed upon between the parties
(ix) A statement indicating whether the MTD is negotiable or non negotiable
(x) The place and date of issue of the MTD
(xi) The signature of the MTO or of a person having authority from him
(xii) The freight of each mode of transport, if expressly agreed between the parties, or the freight including its currency, to the extent payable by the consignee or other indication that freight is payable by him.
(xiii) The intended journey route, modes of transport, and places of transshipment, if known at the time of issuance of the MTD
(xiv) The statement referred to in paragraph 3 Art 28 (ie The MTD shall contain a statement that the international multimodal transport is subject to the provisions of this Convention which nullify any stipulation derogating there from to the detriment of the consignor or the consignee)
(xv) Any other particulars that the parties may agree to insert in the MTD, if not inconsistent with the law of the country where the multimodal transports document is issued
However, the absence of one or more of the particulars listed shall not invalidate the contract. The MTO or his agent can express reservation on the MTD where he knows or suspects the information supplied does not represent the goods he has taken charge of and where he has no reasonable means of checking such particulars. Where he fails to make such reservations, he would be deemed to have accepted the condition of the goods. Furthermore, the Convention permits the use of other documents relating to international multimodal transport which are in accordance with national or international conventions, provided they shall not affect the legal character of the multimodal transport document. False statements entered into the MTD by the MTO knowing them to be false and written with the intention to defraud which leads to loss or damage shall make the MTO liable and excluded from the benefit of limitation of liability.
The multimodal transport document must contain a statement that the international multimodal transport is subject, to the provisions of the Convention, which nullify any provisions derogating to the detriment of the consignor or consignee. To make sure the MTO complies with this provision, a substantial penalty is provided in that the MTO must pay compensation to the claimant in respect of goods lost as a result of omission of this statement. Furthermore, the MTO must compensate the claimant for actual costs incurred to exercise his rights.
Whether a particular contract of carriage and the document evidencing it is indeed for the multimodal transport of goods is a question of fact to be determined by examining the various factors such as final destination indicated in the document, the conduct of the shipper and carrier, and whether the contracting parties were compensated by payment made to the initial carrier or by separate consideration from the shipper. It has however been observed that in most cases where ocean voyage is part of a multimodal contract, the MTDs are usually titled Multimodal Transport Document/Bill of Lading.
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE MULTIMODAL SYSTEM OF TRANSPORTATION
The absence of an integrated transport system especially among all the different modes of transport i.e. rail, road, air and water transportation in developing countries like Nigeria has been of acute concern to both government and other stakeholders. This problem of infrastructural decay in the transport sector also has its negative impacts on the national economy. The road network system is highly deplorable and non motorable with high incidence of accidents. Efforts at containing incidence of accidents have not seriously yielded any positive result. The rail system cannot cope with contemporary mobility needs of the country. Despite huge budgetary allocation, it has not been able to respond to economic needs of the country, hence, the rail mode of transportation remains unattractive, archaic and deplorable. The air transport mode is an elite mode of movement and very expensive. The geographical coverage and operations are still very limited to few connections nationwide. The Inland water ways systems also has its own problems, contributing very little to the nations traffic and movement, with its popularity only limited to the Niger Delta region. Despite the fact that Nigeria has a natural endowment of over 8000 kilometer length of inland water ways, only about 3000 kilometers have been harnessed. The problem of dredging, sand winning and infrastructure for inland water ways system to kick start are yet to be seriously addressed.
It is obvious that if the concept and ideas of multimodality are favourably inculcated into the transport infrastructural development plan or agenda of government, a better transport system that is functional and responsive to the entire societal needs can be provided. Given the philosophical and principal objectives of multimodal transport system, it is quite obvious for a country like Nigeria that adopting the approach will go a long way in achieving basic national and economic transformations earnestly. It is believed that when all the modes of transport system available in the country are made and designed to complement one another, a better transport system and national economic development agenda can be positively pursued.
THE PROMOTION OF MULTIMODAL TRANSPORT
Governments should play a leading role to improve the transport efficiency by promoting multimodal transport. They might consider a number of issues requiring their intervention at national and international levels, in a dynamic approach supported by policy analysis, conceptual innovation, research and inputs from both governmental and no-governmental experts.
The National Level
Governments may wish to initiate a liberalization process of their local transport market thus:
(a) The progressive freeing of access to the transport market to secure efficient transport operations organized by local or international operators. This should be based on fair, reciprocal and mutually advantageous competition, within a framework of laws (e.g antitrust regulations) to correct market failures to protect the public interest
(b) The recognition of local freight forwarders and MTOs as providers of total physical distribution, logistics and “total transport” services, to develop a local capacity to manage international transport issues and to organize international transport operations and
(c) The establishment of conditions to secure equal and fair access to foreign markets for local MTOs
Governments could consider the best available ways and means to anticipate, adapt to, and capitalize on opportunities presented by international developments in transport technology and management, with a view to “importing” successful strategies, as well as new practices and technologies of other nations. This would include among other things, identifying developments that could have far reaching consequences for local firms and domestic transport systems, monitoring the establishment of multimodal transport laws, regulations and administrative procedures in different regions.
Governments could consider infrastructural development policies which would facilitate a modal choice transfer from road transport towards inland waterway and coastal shipping in a multimodal transport chain, with a view to improving environmental and economic performance. These policies should be coordinated with subregional developments, particularly in terms of modernization, interconnectivity and interoperability of transport networks.
The International Level
Governments might wish to harmonize national regulations and procedures with international commercial practices and recognize the need for a globally accepted framework for multimodal transport operations. In the light of the slow ratification of the multimodal transport convention and of the increasing importance given to multimodal transport by commercial parties (through the development of the UNCTAD/ICC Rules on multimodal transport documents) and some governments, governments might consider elaborating a new international instrument. This could be a convention on the transport of goods and would cover the door to door movement of goods, or it could be achieved by overhauling the existing conventions, by means of a protocol, after identifying the obstacles that have prevented their ratification.
When introducing new technical systems, governments might seek compatibility with those introduced or to be introduced by other states or regions. Uniform technical standards to insure interoperability should be established, especially for multimodal transport systems, and coordinated measures taken to encourage and develop them.
Governments might wish to take advantage of the experience of international governmental and non-governmental institutions in establishing local conditions to develop efficient multimodal transport and logistics services, through transfer of know how and technical assistance. They might wish to participate in the regional commission's activities to promote administrative, management and maintenance activities in multimodal transport and containerization and also the adherence to a number of international conventions for facilitating the international movement of goods.
The multimodal transport approach promotes thinking in terms of transport rather than of modes. This implies the consideration of the impact (in terms of cost, price, market, demand, etc.) on one mode from changes in another. A multimodal transport approach to transport problems therefore embodies the simultaneous consideration of all available modes of transport, taking into account all means and operations related to terminals as well as loading and unloading facilities, if a change is planned in either the field of infrastructure or regulations.
The multimodal approach brings together the three key players involved in the transport of the country's international trade: transport users, services providers and government:
(a) the transport users (importers and exporters), who can take advantage of multimodal transport operations in their international trade transactions
(b) the transport providers (modal carriers, freight forwarders, MTOs, etc.) who can offer market oriented multimodal transport operations within the framework of national and international trade and transport practices, and
(c) the government, which designs and implements national laws and regulations regarding trade and transport.
The multimodal approach gives these players the opportunity to review and assess jointly national priorities for trade and transport, in particular the use of modern technologies and international practices, changes in commercial and administrative behaviour, and the need for institutional reforms, which will result in immediate benefits.
Transport users can expect economic and financial benefits, mainly from the greater care taken by an MTO of the goods in his custody, in form of:
(a) reduced transit time, punctuality and increased cargo security, particularly at interface points, and
(b) reduced transport costs (e.g from negotiated volume rates) and other associated costs (resulting from the use of modern transport related technologies: containers, EDI, computerized tracking systems
These two factors will improve the quality and price of door to door transport services. Quality will be improved by the coordination of schedules combined with reliable and predictable services, which makes it possible to meet the goal of commercially agreed on time deliveries. Price may remain competitive considering the structure of the total transport costs. Traditionally, in typical North-South transport operations, indirect transport costs represent a bigger share than direct transport costs because of the long transit time and poor cargo security. With the advent of multimodal transport, the direct transport costs are likely to become a smaller share of the total transport costs, even if the direct transport costs may slightly increase in “out of pocket” expenses.
Service providers and, particularly, transport operators could gain immediate benefits from:
(a) commercial incentives to adapt to transport related technologies (transfer of technology effect), such as containerization and EDI, and
(b) the need to reconsider their marketing strategies and, for example, concentrate their activities in “niche” operations to serve specific commodities on specific trade routes. Commercial arrangements with mega carriers, as well as partnerships between modal operators (e.g rail and road) in the transport of goods in various subregions may create new opportunities.
Governments can also benefit from the multimodal approach since it offers the opportunity to streamline and update trade and transport related administrative procedures and regulations. Governments can stimulate innovative solutions from trade and transport partners and can promote fundamental changes in existing practices. The multimodal transport approach also stimulates trade, promotes new activities for the country's transport sector and saves (and possibly earns) hard currency.
Finally, it can strengthen and complement the different transport modes, instead of creating competition.
Jean Chiazor Anishere