The British International Freight Association (BIFA) welcomes yesterday’s announcement by the International Maritime Organization that its Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has approved the draft amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), Chapter VI to require mandatory verification of the gross mass of containers.
The trade association that represents freight forwarders and logistics companies also cautioned that all concerned should accept that if the ‘aggregating’ method that has been put forward does not work, mandatory weighing of fully loaded containers is likely.
The IMO sub-committee approved draft guidelines, giving shippers two methods to verify the weight of a container – either by weighing the entire loaded container using calibrated and certified equipment; or weighing the individual packages, dunnage, etc and adding the tare mass to the sum of the single masses.
BIFA Director General, Peter Quantrill says: "During the UK consultation process, BIFA has made its views on the subject very clear.
"There is a real problem with regard to this issue and statistics issued by leading insurers indicate approximately 20% of all containers are overweight.
"All parties have responsibilities in relation to this subject and must fulfil them.
"BIFA believes that the correct place to establish the weight of a loaded container is before the vehicle drives on the public highway.
"In the final analysis the present problems are a direct result of poor regulatory enforcement and trade compliance."
BIFA has already started working with the UK’s enforcing agency, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and other trade bodies in order to arrive at a UK policy which meets the regulations. But the policy needs to be simple to follow; utilise other accreditations such as ISO; as well as use commercial flows and documentation.
BIFA understands that the draft amendments will be put forward for adoption to the next MSC session – MSC 94 – in November 2014 and, if approved, will enter into force in July 2016.
Quantrill concludes: "Clearly the implementation of the new rules is a lengthy process that should give the industry time to adapt and allow our members time to make sure that they continue to comply with their responsibilities to make accurate cargo declarations.
"Everyone concerned should accept that if this ‘aggregating’ method does not work, there is a real risk of mandatory weighing of fully loaded containers becoming the only method of establishing a unit’s weight."