The International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) and the British International Freight Association (BIFA) have welcomed the adoption of the Amendment of SOLAS Regulation VI-2 regarding Mandatory Weighing of Gross Mass of Containers by the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The amended rule requires shippers to submit verified gross weight of containers before loading onto ships. Without such a document, relevant export containers shall not be loaded onto ships. The amendment and its guidelines will be effective from 1 July 2016.
The IMO sub-committee also adopted relevant guidelines giving shippers two methods to verify the container’s weight: either by weighing the entire loaded container using calibrated and certified equipment; or weighing the individual packages, dunnage, etc and adding the tare mass to the sum of the single masses.
Welcoming the adoption, which is seen as enhancing safety of maritime container transportation, IAPH President Grant Gilfillan, CEO of Sydney Ports Corporation, Australia, said: “IAPH has been an outspoken advocate on this issue for several years now because mis-declared or incorrectly declared container weights are one of the major causes of maritime container accidents in ship navigation, road transportation and terminal operation.”
He added: “There was only ever going to be one effective solution to this problem and that was to mandate that container weight verification occur at the point of origin, which is an issue requiring international regulation”.
He continued by saying that within each global jurisdiction there will no doubt be different approaches taken to ensure weight verification; however in the interests of port operators the IAPH position is that weight verification should be completed before a container enters the port precinct.
While BIFA, which represents freight forwarders and logistics companies, also welcomed the IMO decision, it also cautioned that all concerned should accept that if the ‘aggregating’ method put forward by the committee does not work, then mandatory weighing of fully loaded containers is likely.
BIFA director general, Peter Quantrill said: “There is a real problem with regard to this issue; statistics issued by leading insurers indicate approximately 20% of all containers are overweight. All parties have responsibilities in relation to this subject and must fulfil them”.
“BIFA believes that the correct place to establish the weight of a loaded container is before the vehicle drives on the public highway. In the final analysis, the present problems are a direct result of poor regulatory enforcement and trade compliance,” he suggested.