The European Shippers Council (ESC) said a proposal to more strictly regulate container weights is "the wrong remedy for the container transport safety issues the sector is dealing with."
Several governments and industry trade associations said
earlier this week that they want the International
Maritime Organization to amend the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty to require loaded containers be weighed to
determine their actual weight before being loaded. The proposal was put forth by Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United States, and
industry groups including BIMCO, the International Association of Ports
and Harbors (IAPH), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the
International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), and the World
Shipping Council (WSC). The IMO's Subcommittee on Dangerous Goods, Solid
Cargoes and Containers will consider the proposal at its next meeting
They said it is needed because inaccurately declared container weights have been implicated in a number of serious accidents.
But the ESC said "extra regulation of container weights will not solve the safety issues in container transport, is superfluous and hardly feasible."
While the shipper group admitted accidents show "something needs to be done about the safety standards in container transport at sea and on land," the group said it is concerned "discussion is entirely focused on a relatively small risk factor, when it comes down to the safety of container transport, namely misdeclared container weights. Instead of focusing on improving the much more important causes mentioned in the reports like lacking procedures for lashing, ship maintenance and stowing, the maritime industry pleads for stricter regulation on container weights at shippers’ premises.
"Shippers believe this is a false remedy," it said.
ESC also said it has "sincere doubts if IMO is the right institution for regulating container safety issues in itself."
It said it is working together with labor unions and other parties in the maritime industry to get voluntary guidelines from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the International Labor Organization on container stuffing updated.
"It is this institution that should take the lead in improving the quality of container stuffing and possibly prescribe legislation on the issue. Poor stuffing is a problem for all modes of transport, not solely the maritime industry," ESC said.
ESC also said the proposal to the IMO is superfluous because SOLAS already states shippers should declare the weight of their containers correctly. Adding another one to it will not solve the issue of misdeclared weights.
However the new proposal would require actual weighing of all loaded containers. - Chris Dupin