Safety of life at sea amendment from July, says European Chamber of Commerce

Jan 28, 2016 (LBO) – The International Maritime Organization’s amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) agreement will come in to effect globally on July 1, 2016, which Sri Lankan authorities and shippers will need to follow, the European Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka said in a white paper.

This amendment stipulates that it is mandatory for the gross mass of containers be verified as no estimations will be permitted. The parties affected are shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators and terminal operators.

“This can be done by either weighing the packed container or weighing all packages and cargo items using a certified method that an authority of the state has approved,” the paper said.

“If the shipping document does not state the verified gross mass and the terminal representatives have not obtained the verified gross mass of the container it shall not be loaded on to the ship (IMO Guidelines Regulation 2, paragraph 1).”

The onus falls on the shipper to obtain and document the verified gross weights of a packed container.

Currently, the terminals only confirm the approximate weight to ensure that the container weight falls within the safety parameters. Even though the shippers declare the weight of the packed container in the customs documentation it is not strictly enforced.

In 2014, exports accounted for 21.2 percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP.

“Thus, it is crucial that the government authorities ensure that a solid plan is in place to overcome the difficulties that may arise from the amendment to the SOLAS agreement,” the paper stated.

“Furthermore, with Sri Lanka’s plans to be a South Asian Megapolis it is imperative that the country follows global regulations and meets international standards and requirements.”

Other regional countries such as Singapore and India have had information sessions with the IMO and relevant stakeholders in 2015, and the government authorities have had a suitable lead time to implement the regulation and ensure that the terminals are compliant with all safety regulations.

“Since this new regulation will affect multiple sectors it is vital that the private sector is aware of the new requirements that will come in to play.”

The relevant Sri Lankan government authorities are the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Director General of Merchant Shipping, and Sri Lanka Customs.

ECCSL market access team in transport and logistics recommends that:

1. Clear guidelines need to be developed by the relevant government authorities, in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders
2. All affected parties (shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators and terminal operators) should be notified of the impending regulation change
3. An interactive forum should take place to identify and resolve constraints with the present infrastructure and operational processes in place

The Chamber plans to host a business conference to inform Sri Lanka’s Transport and Logistics Industry on the Cargo Weight Verification Regulations that IMO is implementing in July 2016. This event will be held on 18th of February 2016, the chamber said.