With the effective date of July 1 getting ever closer, the need for all involved in the international transport of containers to be prepared for the revised SOLAS Convention regulations on container weighing has recently been once more emphasised by freight transport insurance specialist TT Club.
As a responsible insurer, specialising in liability cover for the container handling and transport sector, TT Club has been leading, advising and consulting on the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) work to amend the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) for the past six years. TT Club participated actively in the comprehensive IMO regulatory procedure to draft the revised regulation and accompanying guidelines that require verified gross mass (VGM) for every packed container before it can be loaded on board a ship*. Aimed at improving safety by ensuring accurate weight information is available, TT Club has been strongly promoting awareness of VGM throughout the period and particularly since adoption of the regulation by IMO in November 2014.
Last month the Baltic region was targeted, with TT Club’s Andrew Huxley speaking at two industry Conferences on the implementation of the SOLAS amendment. During Transport Week in Gdansk earlier in the month, and at a seminar on the issue, specially organised by the Port Authority of Riga, Huxley drew attention to not only to the challenges in the implementation of the regulation but also the advantages.
“We have seen a great deal of debate, which continues apace, about the most efficient way in which shippers can comply, how forwarders, lines, ports and terminals can assist in the weighing process and in streamlining the documentation trail. Many interests have pointed out pitfalls and potential bottlenecks in the transport chain. But more positive voices see opportunities to improve clarity about container contents among stakeholders and improved safety both on land and at sea.”
Above all ignorance of the demands of the regulation should not be an excuse for non-compliance or delay in the mandatory implementation of the regulation. While many individual ports and terminal operator groups have already announced port-based solutions, TT Club continues to advocate that accurate weighing should, for safety throughout the supply chain, be completed before the container leaves the packing facility.
A number of industry associations representing shippers, forwarders and shipping lines have produced guidelines for their members. TT Club, in partnership with World Shipping Council, ICHCA and the Global Shippers Forum have published the ‘VGM – Industry FAQs’, available in PDF format here http://bit.ly/1qnVahK, and continues to work with stakeholders in the industry and governments to clarify the benefits of the revised regulation and how compliance can be achieved.
“But clearly,” concluded Huxley, “VGM Awareness remains an unfulfilled mission that demands our further, wholehearted attention.”