End of the VGM honeymoon

OOCL Loading containers

The three months grace period, where port state controls were requested to be pragmatic in their enforcement of the SOLAS regulations demanding the verification of the gross mass of packed containers came to an end on 30 September.

Locally, the Hong Kong Marine Department said: “Since the regulation came into force, most shippers have complied with the new requirements. In a few minor cases, weighing scales operators issued inadequate verification or declaration documents. Upon receipt of instructions from the Marine Department, they had rectified the problem and complied with the new requirements.”

But on a global basis, the picture gets muddier following comments by the TT Club’s risk management director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox, at the recent Lloyd’s List Global Awards.

Mr Storrs-Fox said it was apparent that certain terminals and carriers had been engaging with shippers where inaccuracies were discovered.

“It remains to be seen whether the declared VGMs are accurate, representing the actual weighing process,” he said.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that shippers are, in the main, simply adding the tare mass of the container to the previously declared weight of the cargo to arrive at a VGM.

The industry needs the comfort of authenticated VGMs comparing the actual mass of packed containers obtained by check-weighing in order to have a true picture of compliance,” Mr Storrs-Fox concluded.

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