Jul 28, 2014

Mandatory weighing of containers must be realistic, aid smooth cargo operations: IAPH's Pres. Gilfillan

Grant Gilfillan, president

Grant Gilfillan, president of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), recently talked to Kaiji Press (KP) about the proposal to require the inspection of container weight prior to ship loading which is projected to be officially adopted in fall this year. "What is important is how we can prepare practically acceptable options in order to prevent the rule from interfering with the smooth cargo handling operations," he said. From the perspective of ensuring not only safety in cargo operations inside ports, but also safety on a total scale including inland transport, Gilfillan pointed out that the place of measurement/weighing should also be the place where vanning is done at the very least. With regard to shippers who have been proven to be trustworthy, he claimed that, "It would probably be good to give them some relief measures such as reduced inspection rates."

The mandatory verification of the weight of containers prior to loading onto ships passed as a proposed amendment to the SOLAS Convention at the 93rd session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC93) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that was held in May this year. It is expected to be officially adopted at the 94th session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC94) in November and then come into force in July 2016. IAPH has partnered with other shipping and port groups in calling on the IMO to require the verification of the weight of containers prior to loading.

Gilfillan, who also serves as the CEO of the port authorities of Sydney and Newcastle in Australia, commented that, "I think that it is sure to be officially adopted at the MSC94. We have two years prior to its enforcement and while it might be challenging, it is not impossible. Conditions may vary depending on the country, and ports in developing countries, in particular, may have a lot of problems." He acknowledged that, "We need to deal with this in a realistic manner in order to prevent it from making operation at the ports and the supply chain inefficient."

Now with regard to the place of weight verification, Gilfillan claimed that, "It is not a problem of ports alone, we need to find a total solution. Safety needs to be ensured for inland transport by trucks and railways, as well as for yards and cargo handling on ships. For that end, it is imperative to verify the weight at a place where the cargoes originate." But this does not necessarily mean that all shippers will be able to weigh the cargoes at vanning areas. Truck scales for use in weighing containers might be difficult to introduce, or access to the weighing areas might not be easy. Small/medium-size shippers in particular are seen to be prone to these circumstances. "Those are extremely complicated problems and we have found no answers to them yet," said Gilfillan, who added that, "For shippers who have been proven trustworthy, all their container cargoes may not need to be constantly weighed. They ought to be given relief measures in accordance with their trustworthiness."

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