Ghana: Boost for containerised cargo tradeWednesday, March 02, 2016 > 09:45:08
Effective July 1 this year, packed cargo to be shipped from the country will have to be weighed to meet a specified verified gross mass before they could be loaded onto vessels for export.
This is a new requirement from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that seeks to tighten control on overloading vessels in a bid to avert the increasing incidence of lost cargo and human lives at sea.
The Ghana Shippers’ Authority, to this end, has organised a stakeholder meeting to brainstorm measures toward installation of basic infrastructure within the port community to facilitate smooth implementation of those guidelines.
The meeting ended with the setting up of a technical committee comprised of representatives from the various stakeholders to set up agreed standards for the containers and processes for implementing the regime.
Chief Executive of the authority, Dr. Kofi Mbiah, indicated that the container weight verification is a mandatory global trade requirement and the country cannot afford to miss the take-off.
He warned: “It will become compulsory for every container that is leaving the shores of this country to be weighed and for the weight to be verified.
“If you have not weighed and verified the gross mass weight of the container, it will not be loaded onto the ship; and when that error occurs it then cause delays, thereby increasing the cost.”
Most sea-related accidents have been linked to misdeclaration; a practice whereby the shipper under-declare the contents and weight of containers in shipping documents in a bid to reduce freight and other shipping-related costs.
The phenomenon presents the most significant risk for container shipping as it contributes to overloading vessels, and has been implicated in major shipping losses including vessel overturns and loss of life at sea.
The purpose of IMO’s container weight verification requirement is therefore to obtain the accurate gross weight of packed containers so that vessel and terminal operators can prepare vessel stowage plans prior to loading ships.
The Shipowners and Agents Association of Ghana (SOAAG) -- which will be the biggest beneficiary of this new guideline -- has welcomed the development as it will reduce loss of ships and human lives at sea.
Executive Secretary of the association, Perpetual Osei-Bonsu, told the B&FT in an interview: “This is a directive that will protect the shipping business’s integrity as well as prevent the loss of vessels and life at sea. It will also help us -- shipping lines -- to plan better.
But to ensure efficiency and credibility in the cargo movement process, she said there was the need for a streamlined container weighing process to aid effective monitoring.
“For the purpose of credibility there is a need for effective monitoring, and that can only happen when the entire process is streamlined, instead of having various terminals doing their own checks,” she noted.
GPHA’s Port Monitoring Manager, Garvin Amarvie, told B&FT that implementation of the directive will mong others help to prolong the lifespan of containers, as well as enable planning actions by vessel owners and terminal operators.
He added: “This, when done properly, will facilitate vessel turnaround time, which will obviously reduce congestion at the ports. It will also formalise the vanning process -- which is stuffing the vessel with cargo -- using the right equipment”.