Container Weighing: New Charges are "Unjustified"


By MarEx 2016-07-05 19:56:24

The Global Shippers Forum (GSF) reports that some members, mainly in Asia and Africa, have found that some service providers appear to be exploiting the newly introduced container weighing regulations by imposing exorbitant and unjustified charges for questionable and unspecified “administration fees” and other services.

The GSF is calling for those charges to be withdrawn immediately, and is currently examining the following examples provided by members:

China: The global forwarding company Kuhne and Nagel is charging a verified gross mass (VGM) administration fee for all K&N shipments booked in China - specifically $12.75 for full containers if shippers are using the K&N electronic VGM system, or $25.00 for manual data entry. Similarly, OOCL Logistics have announced that they will be charging a VGM Administration Fee of $15 per document for all exports from China.

Nigeria: The logistics and shipping firm Grimaldi Agency Nigeria have notified customers that they will weigh containers on departure at a cost of N20,000 per 20 foot container and N40,000 per 40 foot.

Sri Lanka: GSF members have advised that shipping lines are considering charging shippers $25 for submitting the VGM, and, in cases where the final weight differs from the booked weight, an additional charge of $50 for amending the VGM.

U.K. and Ireland: The ports group DP World, which owns both Southampton and London Gateway ports, impose a £1.00 charge for VGMs provided prior to arrival (rising to £3.00 after box arrival but before 24 hour cut off).

Chris Welsh, GSF Secretary-General, said: “Shippers worldwide support the safety goals of the container weighing requirements and are committed to fulfilling their regulatory requirements, but this should not be used by supply chain partners as an excuse to impose unjustified fees.

“This is particularly concerning for developing countries, especially in Africa and Oceania, which according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Maritime Report (2015) pay 40 to 70 percent more on average for the international transport of their imports than developed countries.” 

The new container weighing regulations which took effect globally on July 1. Tthe Global Shippers’ Forum has consistently taken a constructive approach to the VGM requirements and played a key role in IMO in securing flexibility in the requirements to enable shippers to make accurate VGM declarations at minimum cost and disruption to international trade.  

As a result, shippers have two methods of providing a VGM; by weighing the fully loaded container using calibrated and certified equipment or by using a calculated weight method where the shipper can sum the cargo items, packing and securing materials and add the tare of the container.

GSF is especially pleased to note the flexible and equivalent weighing and reporting methodologies that have emerged in recent weeks. Its expectation is that the overwhelming majority of VGM service providers will act ethically and will only charge for actual third party services provided to the shipper at reasonable prices that reflect the cost of providing those services.

The new rules require the shipper to provide an accurate VGM to the carrier or the terminal operator using the prescribed methods in the IMO rules. Where the shipper undertakes the weighing process himself to determine the VGM and notifies this to the carrier or terminal operator in the agreed manner, there is no justification for any VGM charge to be applied, says GSF.

The maritime sector has sought the introduction of these new rules to enhance maritime safety. It is a reasonable expectation of shippers that carriers and terminal operators will put in place procedures for acceptance of a VGM. This is no different to arrangements previously in place prior to July 1 except that the shipper must now provide an accurate VGM in compliance with the new rules. Therefore, says GSF, there is no justification for carriers and terminal operators to apply any charge for a shipper making an accurate VGM declaration.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.