Friday, September 20, 2013

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IMO committee approves compromise proposal on container weighing

Early today, the International Maritime Organization's committee on dangerous goods, solid cargoes and containers came up with a draft amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention regarding container-weighing verification.

The subcommittee approved a draft regulation that gives shippers two ways to verify the weight of a container. Shippers can either verify the weight of a packed container, or weigh all cargo items individually and then add the weight of an empty container.

Both the Global Shippers Forum and the World Shipping Council have praised the draft amendment, saying it is the best outcome for shippers and the maritime industry.

"IMO member states' representatives and industry groups, including shippers and carriers have worked constructively within the IMO Correspondence Group to find a workable solution for verification of container weights prior to shipment," said GSF Secretary General, Chris Welsh in a statement.

The International Transport Workers' Federation, a global trade organization with a membership of 700 transport workers' unions, said today in a statement that with the compromise the IMO missed an opportunity to protect maritime workers.

The ITF said that the compromise allows governments "to either choose the gold standard of mandatory weighing or the lesser measure of certifying containers based on an unformulated process of verifying the weight by adding together the different constituent parts of a container load at unspecified times and places along the transport route."

"This was the ideal opportunity to finally bring in a system which would lessen the risk that unweighed and misdeclared containers pose to dockers, seafarers, truck drivers, the general public and the environment," said Paddy Crumlin, ITF president. "Instead we have a compromise that in some countries will put in place a process that is likely to be bedeviled by the obvious questions: who will certify, when, and how?"

"We look forward to approval by the Maritime Safety Committee in May 2014 and the final adoption in November 2014,"said Chris Koch, WSC president and CEO, in a statement.

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