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It appears the controversy surrounding the selection of West Blue to operate the Single Window Scheme at the country?s ports from 1st September is far from over.

The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents of Nigeria is warning the initiative is bound to fail unless a proper transition plan for customs? take-over is instituted and implemented.

The scheme would see the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, CEPS take over the role of Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) whose contracts with government are due to end on August 31.

The DICs say they have a 3-year transitional agreement with the Finance Minister, Former Trade Minister and other top government officials which should be implemented for a successful exercise.

But Trade and Industry Minister, Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah insists, this cannot be equated to renewal of their contracts.

Joy Business Editor, Emmanuel Agyei has been engaging the President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents of Nigeria, Lucky Amiwero who has served on at least 7 port-related committees in Nigeria.

They include Presidential Committee on Port problems 2003., the Reconstituted Taskforce on the Reforms of Nigeria Customs Service, Presidential Committee on Destination Inspection, Import Clearance Procedure and Implementation of Fiscal Measures 2003, National Facilitation of Committee of International Maritime Organization, Presidential Committee on 48 Hour Clearance of Goods from the Ports and Taskforce on the Review of Port Charges.

Mr. Amiwero begun by emphatically dismissing suggestions that West Blue?s engagement in Nigeria has improved that country?s port operations.
?West Blue is no more involved in any role in the ports for now. They were involved from 1st January 2014 and the contract has been taken following their failure in all the systems. So the Minister of Finance had to intervene and bring in Webb Fontaine which had to now bring in what is called enhanced PAAR (Pre-Arrival Assessment Report) system.

?There must be a transition plan because service providers have been operating for some time and you have to look at how you transfer the software and hardware they have been using. This is also because most of these soft-wares have to do with intellectual property rights whereby you have to go into a kind of franchise arrangement. So transition is necessary and if you don?t accommodate it in your programme, it would collapse because if you keep doing it as was done in Nigeria, the thing would collapse,? he advised.

He advanced his point outlining some key aspects of a transition plan necessary for successful implementation of a National Single Window Scheme.
?A transition plan might not be more than 6 months depending on the country but first you must look at the integrity of the machines. Secondly, there must be a committee to look at the process and see if actually the handing-over is proper by looking at the scanning, the platform and all that. It is better to take over professionally rather than politically ? you don?t rush to take over because there are tools you have never operated for some time? he concluded.

Meanwhile, a government delegation from Ghana is set to embark on a fact-finding mission to Nigeria in August 2015 as part of the due-diligence process on West Blue, Trade and Industry Minister, Ekwow Spio Garbrah has revealed to BUSINESS DAY NEWS.

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