Shippers educated on IMO Verified Container Weight

Takoradi PortA stakeholders’ forum, organised to educate and create awareness among exporters in Ghana on the new requirement on International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Requirement on Verified Container Weight (VCW) has been held in Accra.

The introduction of the verified container weight requirement, to be implemented from July 1, would help to obtain an accurate gross weight of packed containers.

The Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) in collaboration with Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), organised the forum that afforded participants the opportunity to study and understand the guidelines provided by IMO, and to examine the way forward with regard to the implementation of the requirement and compliance by exporters before the due date.

Naa Dansua Ayitey, Head of Shipper Services of GSA, explained that in November 2014, the IMO adopted mandatory amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter VI, Part dealing with cargo information.

“These amendments would become effective on July 1, 2016 for packed export containers received for loading on to a vessel involved in international maritime traffic.”

She said the amendment is to ensure the safety of the ship, the safety of workers both aboard ships and ashore, the safety of cargo and the overall safety at sea.

The stability of the ship and how it is likely to affect the stowage plan of the vessel causing it to list and thereby damaging the cargo.

“The purpose of the Container Weight verification requirement is therefore to obtain the accurate gross weight of the packed containers so that vessel and terminal operators can prepare vessel stowage plans prior to loading ships.”

Ms Ayitey said there have been major accidents on the coast as a result of mis-declared container weights causing the structural failure.

“This and other such accidents have necessitated the need to have a mandatory container weight verification,” she said.

She said the ultimate effectiveness in enforcement would be in the absence of the VCW, the container would not be loaded on board the vessel.

She said the forum, therefore, forms part of the Authority’s preparation in collaboration with other stakeholders, to ensure that by the implementation date, all shippers are well prepared.

She said there would be regional forums to educate the public while brochures would be prepared as guide for shippers.

There would also be sensitisation by way of information to the Ghana Missions Abroad.

Ms Ayitey said since the implementation date is fast approaching, continuous sensitisation is very important to enable industry players understand the issues.

She assured the shippers that the requirement regulation would not attract or add any cost to their transactions and so they should embrace it for the improvement of the industry.

Mr James Tiiga, Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, said “a vibrant and successful export trade is inextricably linked with a stronger maritime industry, where players understand the rules of engagement.

This understanding is fostered and achieved when there is constant interaction and information flow amongst the varied stakeholder community”.

He said the IMO requirement of the Container Weight Verification is a requirement to address safety issues at sea and on shore arising from container shipment that have incorrect weight declarations.

He said the requirement, therefore, required of the shippers, shipping lines and terminal operators to ensure that a competent authority had verified the weight of a packed export container.

This is to make sure that the declared weight is equal to the verified weight. The non-compliance of this regulation would preclude container from being loaded onto a vessel.

“We must understand that this regulation inures to our benefit as exporters because the effect of wrongly weighed or overweighed cargo/container has serious ramifications.

“It can lead to incorrect vessel stowage decisions, collapsed container stacks, delay in shipment days, lost containers overboard, among others.

A delay in vessel arrival date for instance would impact very negatively on our exports, especially perishable products”.

Participants expressed satisfaction about the engagement but they called for further education among all players.

Source: GNA

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