FONASBA, the international ship brokers and ship agents federation, this week gave its full backing to international government and industry efforts aimed at ensuring that shipping containers for export are accurately weighed.
The initiative, which is being led by the World Shipping Council in concert with shipowners’ association BIMCO, the International Association of Ports and Harbours, the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers Federation, as well as the maritime administrations of Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States, will be launched at the 17th session of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC 17) in September.
The problem of under-declared and unverified containers is a serious one for ports and ships. A paper to be put forward at the IMO meeting revealed that in recent containership accidents, some boxes had been up to ten tonnes heavier than the manifest weight, leading to stack collapse, capsizes and even contributing to the break up of the vessel. Onshore, under-declaration has led to crane, straddle carrier and forklift failures as well as stack collapse, overturned trucks and damage to trains, roads and bridges.
With the ship agent being central to the movement of cargo to and from the vessel and port, issues arising from the handling of containers of unverified weight, especially those which are under-declared, can affect the agent anywhere along the transport chain. Accordingly, FONASBA is very pleased to put its name to the initiative and to support it at the forthcoming IMO meeting.
FONASBA General Manager, Jonathan Williams FICS said: “Ship agents see the problems which inaccurately weighed containers cause ports and ships every day. It is extremely worrying that there is currently no obligation for containers to be accurately weighed anywhere along the transport chain. FONASBA hopes that this initiative will rectify this anomaly and bring considerably more certainty, resulting in increased safety levels for all parties in the container
World Shipping Council President and CEO Chris Koch welcomed FONASBA's support for the initiative and said the Council and the other partners were looking forward to the Federation's input to the discussions in IMO and elsewhere.