Container weighing issue
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has lent its support to compromise proposals for the verification of container weights at ports.
But what has been described as a “good day for maritime safety” by the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) doesn’t detract from the fact that the outcome is slightly wishy-washy - according to some.
The IMO sub-committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers has proposed two methods for container weight verification, which it says will cause minimal disruption to the supply chain.
The first method strengthens the responsibility of shippers to verify the weight of a container by weighing it in its entirety. The second method of verification allows shippers to use a calculated option where all packages and cargo items can be weighed and then added to the weight of the container.
Lars Meurling, Bromma Conquip, told Port Strategy that he welcomed the news, but that the effort needed to make this happen should not be underestimated.
Bromma’s role in the debate so far has been to let the various stakeholders know that technology exists to successfully implement weight verification at a reasonable cost and with limited effects to terminal operations.
Mr Meurling points towards weigh bridges as one possible solution. He added: “I believe that technology where the container can be weighed without affecting the operations in the terminal will be seriously considered by the operators. Solutions where sensors are installed on the spreader twistlocks can measure the weight as part of the regular lift cycle at a high accuracy.”
Not everyone’s happy with the news though. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) says that the IMO has missed an opportunity to help improve the safety of port workers by making it mandatory to weigh all containers and providing repercussions for those who mis-declare.
It says that giving shippers the second option is a compromise that in some countries is “likely to be bedevilled by the "who will certify, when and how?” question.
If the IMO compromise proposal is accepted by SOLAS, it must then be adopted by the next IMO Maritime Safety Committee meeting scheduled for May 2014.
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