July 12 – FONASBA, the international ship brokers and ship agents federation, has given its full backing to international government and industry efforts aimed at ensuring that shipping containers for export are accurately weighed, writes Adam Flensborg Safikhany.
Readers will recall our article on June 25, which advised of an initiative being led by the World Shipping Council in concert with container shipping lines, and labour organisations in Denmark, Holland and the USA, which will be launched at the 17th session of International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC 17) in September.
The problem of under-declared and unverified containers is a serious one for ports and ships says FONASBA. A paper to be put forward at the IMO meeting revealed that in recent containership accidents, some boxes had been up to ten tonnes heavier than the manifest weight.
FONASBA general manager, Jonathan Williams FICS said: “Ship agents see the problems which inaccurately weighed containers cause ports and ships every day. It is extremely worrying that there is currently no obligation for containers to be accurately weighed anywhere along the transport chain.
One of the formal proposals to the IMO asks that body to rule in favour of a requirement to accurately weigh loaded containers. Citing safety concerns the IMO proposal is asking that the port facility and the ship have a weight verification certificate obtained by officially weighing the container.
But the European Shippers Council (ESC) disagreed, and responded to the proposal by saying that it was a “false remedy for an ill-defined disease.”
The ESC said that the “misdeclared” container weights are a small risk factor compared to more important safety concerns such as the dearth of procedures for lashing, ship maintenance and stowing.
“We admit that misdeclaration of weights needs our attention, but oppose the idea that it’s the biggest threat to the safety of workers in the supply chain. If the sector is truly looking for a safer supply chain, all parties should take their responsibility,” said the ESC statement.
World Shipping Council president and ceo, Chris Koch welcomed FONASBA’s support for the initiative and said the Council and the other partners were looking forward to the Federation’s input to the discussions in IMO and elsewhere.