Freight forwarders urged not to be complacent on SOLAS ‘grace’ period,

6 June, 16

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) is urging its
members and the freight forwarding community not to be complacent about
new rules concerning the reporting of the “verified gross mass” of every
container, in light of the recent IMO circular on VGM urging a policy of
‘practical and pragmatic’ enforcement by authorities over the first
three months after the new rules take effect on July 1.

Robert Keen, director general of the trade association for UK freight
forwarders says that whilst there has been ongoing concerns regarding
the application of the container weighing requirements, which has led to
an IMO committee issuing a statement suggesting some leniency be applied
after July 1, international trade should not allow this grace period to
shape its plans in regards to complying with the implementation of the
new rules.

Keen says: “BIFA continues to urge its members to talk to their
customers and the shipping lines and ports they use to make sure that
the containers they ship after July 1 are compliant with the new rules.

“The IMO circular advising administrations and port state control
authorities to take a “practical and pragmatic approach” in enforcing
the new rules, for a period of three months immediately following 1 July
2016, should help ensure that containers that are loaded before that
date, but transshipped on or after that date, reach their final port of
discharge without a verified gross mass.

“It also provides some flexibility, helping all the stakeholders in
containerised transport to refine procedures for documenting,
communicating and sharing electronic verified gross mass data and going
some way to allaying industry fears that the impending rules might
trigger big delays at ports.

“With just weeks to the mandatory implementation of this revision of
international law there are still a number of grey areas and are
encouraging all our members to make sure that they are fully prepared
and ready to meet their responsibilities.

“The IMO’s intent would appear to be that any party which has done its
utmost to comply, may expect to be treated with understanding. Those,
who have done little or nothing, can expect to be penalised.”


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