Gov�t Defends West Blue Contract

Finance Minister Seth Tekper has defended government’s resolve to award the single window and risk management systems contract at the ports to West Blue Consulting.

He indicated that the award of the contract is in line with international ports standards.

Speaking in a joint interview with Citi News and Radio Gold, the Finance Minister pointed out that for a very long time, functions at the ports such as pre-shipment inspection, destination inspection, the evaluation and classification function were wrongly being carried out.

He disclosed that the World Customs Organization has said “it is not good practice because these are core customs structures and even when you take the SCVR which is what the DIs were using, there is a disclaimer that the ultimate responsibility for evaluation is customs so many countries have moved away from that.”

The Finance Minister urged all aggrieved persons and the general public to know that it is imperative for government to carry out this “principal change…to strengthen customs.”

In relation to clearance, Mr. Terkper said the idea is to put a platform in place so that “Port Health Standards Authority, Customs, Ports and Harbours itself will do things electronically.”

West Blue has faced stiff opposition ever since it emerged that the Presidency had directed that the company must be given the contract to operate a national single window at the nation’s ports.

Critics and industry players have argued that West Blue had failed in Nigeria for which reason the Nigerian government is working to kick them out of that country and recalling some Destination Inspection agencies to come back and work in Nigeria.

Concerned Freight Forwarders Association has also accused government of rushing the decision to employ the services of West Blue Consulting to solely operate a national single window at the nation’s ports.

According to them, though they are not against the move, “we think that the process under which west blue was handpicked to implement this national single window platform was erred.”