European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) says it welcomes the recent decision of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) that containers must be weighed before being stowed on board ship; however it stresses that the weighing of containers should not burden port handling activities.
ESPO explains that the verification of a containers’ weight can indeed play an important role in enhancing safety in maritime transport and the whole transport chain. Ports confirm that misdeclarations of container weight do occur and cause safety risks.
ESPO says it hopes though, that the implementation of this new amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Regulation in EU and/or national legislation, further clarifies the shippers’ responsibility and avoids that in the end this responsibility is transferred to ports and terminal operators. The weighing should take place before entering the port area, and preferably by the shippers at the place of origin.
“We do recognise the importance of knowing the exact weight of containers not only for maritime transport but throughout the whole transport chain. We should look for the most practical solution for all players in the transport chain. But we should at all times avoid that this weighing operation burdens the handling activities in the port and increases the congestion in the port. This could happen if misdeclared container weights are only being detected at a late stage, in the port or port terminal area,” says ESPO’s Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost.
At its 93rd session in May 2014, the IMO’s MSC approved the amendment of SOLAS Regulation VI-2 regarding Mandatory Weighing of Gross Mass of Containers before loading onto ships. The committee also adopted relevant guidelines regarding the verified gross mass of a container carrying cargo.
The amended rule requires shippers to submit verified gross weight of containers before loading onto ships and sufficiently in advance to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan. Without such document, relevant export containers shall not be loaded onto ships. The amendment and its guidelines will be effective by July 2016, subject of final adoption by MSC 94th session in November 2014.