IMO Urged to Act on Container Weight Verification Requirement

Shipowners, ports, terminals, and others support the same proposal.

By MarEx 2013-09-06 08:27:00

Misdeclared container cargo weights have been a long-standing problem for the transportation industry and for governments. The problem is significant and arises in almost every trade. Misdeclared container weights present safety hazards for ships, their crews, other cargo on board, workers in the port facilities handling containers, and on roads. Incorrectly declared weights lead to incorrect ship stowage and accidents. Misdeclared container weights facilitate unlawful evasion of Customs tariffs and duties, while also impairing Customs authorities’ ability to perform accurate cargo security risk assessment.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is on the verge of addressing this recognized and documented safety problem. The collective work and agreement of 15 governments and 13 industry groups have forged a compromise solution for the IMO’s consideration in mid-September (DSC 18). This compromise should be adopted as a long-needed improvement to maritime safety. 

Some of the facts include: 

IMO member governments participating in the IMO correspondence group, shippers, and maritime industry organizations agree that the way to solve this problem is to require a packed container’s weight to be verified before the container is loaded onto a ship.

The technology exists to verify container weights without delays or significant costs to commerce.

Recent container ship casualties vividly demonstrate the importance of properly declared containerized goods shipments. Responsible shippers recognize the problem of misdeclared container weights and agree with the proposed solution at the IMO.

The Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) is also calling on governments to support compromise proposals for the verification of container weights to be considered at the IMO Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers at the forthcoming IMO meeting which will commence on 16 September, 2013.

GSF Secretary General, Chris Welsh said: “An IMO Correspondence Group was established to draft an amendment to the SOLAS Convention to provide language for a mandatory requirement for verification of the gross weight of containers and Guidelines for implementation. They listened carefully to shippers’ arguments regarding appropriate methods for verification."

“This will be a key benefit for shippers using audit-based SAP systems as they will be able to adapt their existing systems to comply with their responsibility for obtaining and documenting the gross mass weight of a packed container.”

"IMO member states’ representatives and industry groups, including shippers and carriers have worked constructively within the IMO Correspondence Group to find a workable solution for verification of container weights prior to shipment”.

Statement from BIMCO, World Shipping Council, International Chamber of Shipping and the International Association of Ports and Harbors

Full Statement from Global Shippers' Forum