- THE MAGAZINE
A number of government and industry organizations have approached the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with a formal proposal to require that loaded containers be weighed.
Among the sponsors of the proposal are Denmark, The Netherlands, the United States, BIMCO, the International Association of Ports and Harbors, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the World Shipping Council.
The IMO’s Subcommittee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers will consider the proposal at its next meeting in September 2012.
“Misdeclared container weights are a recurring safety problem on shore, on ships, and on roadways. It is time to fix that problem,” said Torben Skaanild, secretary general of BIMCO. “We are pleased that there is such a broad cross-section of industry and government agreement on a specific and effective remedy,” Skaanild continued.
Peter Hinchliffe, secretary general of ICS, added, “The cosponsors of this proposal are recommending a legal requirement that port terminal operators and ships must have a verified container weight in order to export a loaded container. This will protect workers in the port, on the ship, and other cargo owners against the various risks created by misdeclared containers.”
“For years, the United States has required all its export containers to be weighed, said Dr. Geraldine Knatz, president of IAPH and executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “This has not impaired supply chain efficiency, and it has improved safety. The technology exists to weigh containers accurately and efficiently, and it should be a universal, required practice.”
Christopher Koch, president and CEO of the World Shipping Council, noted, “The governments that have co-sponsored this proposal have been leaders at the IMO on the issue of maritime safety. Industry and labor are very pleased to have their support in the efforts to amend the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention and establish an effective solution to this safety issue.”
SOLAS currently requires the shipper (the cargo interest that loads its goods into the container) to provide an accurate container weight declaration, but this requirement is often not met, is not enforced by SOLAS parties, and there is no requirement to actually weigh a loaded container, the IAPH pointed out. To remedy the problem, the cosponsors propose a legal requirement, not only that the shipper provides an accurate weight declaration, but that the port facility and the ship have a weight verification certificate obtained by weighing the container. This will ensure that the actual weight of all loaded containers is received prior to stowing the container onto a vessel for export.