Backing For Move To Weigh All Export Boxes
FONASBA, the international ship brokers and ship agents federation, has given its full backing to efforts aimed at ensuring that all shipping containers for export are weighed.
The problem of under-declared and unverified weights is a serious one for ports and ships, FONASBA told the IMO’s subcommittee on dangerous goods, solid cargoes and containers in support of the World Shipping Council-led campaign to enforce mandatory weigh-ins. Some containers, it said the FONASBA brief, have been 10 tonnes heavier than the stated manifest weight, and this has resulted in stacks collapsing, ships capsizing and even contributed to the break-up of the vessel.
Onshore, under-declaration has led to crane, straddle carrier and forklift failures as well as stack collapse, overturned trucks and damage to trains, roads and bridges.
FONASBA general manager Jonathan Williams, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, said: “Ship agents see the problems which inaccurately weighed containers cause ports and ships every day.
It is extremely worrying that there is currently no obligation for containers to be accurately weighed anywhere along the transport chain. FONASBA hopes that this initiative will rectify this anomaly and bring considerably more certainty, resulting in increased safety levels for all parties in the container shipping sector.”
The pro-weighing lobby includes BIMCO, the International Association of Ports and Harbours, the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers Federation, as well as the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States.
But the European Shippers Council (ESC) disagrees, saying the proposal to have all containers weighed before loading is a “false remedy for an ill-defined disease.”
While mis-declaration of container weights has been blamed for shipboard accidents in ports and on highways, the ESC does not believe that this is the major cause, it said in a statement.
“We admit that mis-declaration of weights needs our attention, but oppose the idea that it’s the biggest threat to the safety of workers in the supply chain.
If the sector is truly looking for a safer supply chain, all parties should take their responsibility,” said an ESC statement.
Container weigh-ins is one of the current demands of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) despite resistance from waterfront management of US east and Gulf coast ports, who are fearful of congestion and back-ups creating higher costs. Contract talks between management and the longshore union have recently started.