Cargo information regarding a mandatory container gross mass verification has been implemented in Sri Lankan Ports from 01st July 2016.
The Merchant Shipping Secretariat (MSS) under the Ministry of Ports & Shipping has notified customers that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), requiring Shippers to verify and provide the container’s gross verified weight to the ocean carrier prior to it being loaded onto a ship.
A verified container weight is a condition for loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export. This requirement has become legally effective on July 1, 2016, after which it would be a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container onto a vessel if the vessel operator and marine terminal operator do not have a verified container weight.
In this regard, The Merchant Shipping Secretariat has recently conducted several meetings & discussions with related stakeholders in order to finalize an agreeable system with the shipping industry. The agreed Merchant Shipping Notice (MSN) has been issued by now to introduce Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention in Chapter VI - Regulation 2 on cargo information regarding a mandatory container gross mass verification implemented in Sri Lankan Ports from 01st July 2016.
The MSN outlines the legal position in Sri Lanka with regard to the recent amendments to SOLAS VI pertaining to cargo information which were adopted in November 2014 and would take effect from 1st July 2016. It also signposts detailed guidance for Sri Lankan shippers, terminals/ports and carriers on implementing the SOLAS VI provisions.
The SOLAS amendment places a requirement on the shipper of packed containers to verify and provide the container’s gross mass to the carrier and terminal representative prior to it being loaded onto a ship.
As a result of incidents, published reports and concerns from carriers and others within the transport supply chain, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has recognized and discussed the problems associated with freight containers, structural issues, packing, their packed gross mass and how they are secured on to the ship, for over seven years. Following the discussions at previous IMO sub-committees involving many governments and industry organizations, in November 2014 the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee meeting adopted the changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention Chapter VI Regulation 2 – Cargo information regarding a mandatory container gross mass verification together with associated guidelines published in this regard.
The SOLAS text and the Guidelines were produced as a result of open discussions, based on proposals agreed between both governments and trade bodies to address the recognized and documented safety issues whilst minimizing the impact on participants within the supply chain.
“The effect on the supply chain is that the verification of the gross mass of containers will be required before packed containers are placed aboard ships. The supply chain is a complex and dynamic system consisting of a number of different companies that work in succession to produce, transport and deliver goods from the supplier to the customer. To ensure compliance with these SOLAS provisions, participants within the supply chain should agree amongst themselves the processes necessary to ensure that the weights are available prior to the packed container being loaded aboard the ship,” the MSN states.
These Guidelines have been drafted following discussions between the relevant Sri Lankan trade bodies together with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), South Asia Gateway Terminals Pvt. Ltd (SAGT), Colombo International Container Terminals Pvt. Ltd. (CICT) and Merchant Shipping Secretariat (MSS) and form the basis of Sri Lankan industry and Government advice on implementing the provisions of SOLAS. The Guidelines also identify elements of a non-regulatory nature which those with differing commercial roles and activities within the transport supply chain may need to consider.
Towards this end, adhering strictly to the stipulated guide lines in the said convention and also taking note of the need of the hour, in keeping par with the prerequisites, SLPA has calibrated all weigh bridges and are registered with the Director General of Merchant Shipping of Sri Lanka.
Further, Terminal Management System at the container Terminals of SLPA has been equipped with necessary modifications in facilitating this venture and is running smoothly to the contentment of its customers.