The Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization on Monday approved changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention that will require verification of container weights as a condition for loading packed export containers aboard ships.
Misdeclared container weights have been a long-standing problem for the transportation industry and for governments, as they present safety hazards for ships, their crews, other cargo on board, workers in the port facilities handling containers, and on roads. Misdeclaration of container weights also gives rise to customs concerns.
The approved changes to the convention will enter into force in July 2016 upon final adoption by the MSC in November of this year. In order to assist supply chain participants’ and SOLAS contracting governments’ implementation of the container weight verification requirement, MSC also issued a circular with implementation guidelines.
The MSC on Monday also approved a new Code of Practice for the Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs), including intermodal shipping containers. The new CTU Code, which will replace the current IMO/ILO/UNECE guidelines, has already been approved by the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and will now go to the International Labour Organization for approval.
The World Shipping Council, whose members represent about 90 percent of global container ship capacity, has been a leading advocate for the container weight verification requirements and has worked cooperatively with the IMO for more than seven years to see them materialize. WSC has also participated in the group of experts that developed the new CTU Code.
“In taking these decisions, the IMO has demonstrated its continuing leadership in trying to ensure the safe transportation of cargo by the international shipping industry,” said WSC President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Koch. “We congratulate the IMO Secretary General and the IMO member governments for developing and approving these measures that, when properly implemented and enforced, should provide for long-needed improvement to maritime safety. The SOLAS amendments and related implementation guidelines regarding container weight verification represent a collaborative effort that we were pleased to be a part of and we look forward to final adoption of the amendments in November 2014.” More information about the issue can be found here