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Container lines report 95% VGM compliance rate

Container lines around the world are reporting a high rate of compliance with the new SOLAS requirements for the verification of the gross mass of a packed container since their implementation on 1 July, reporting a 95% VGM compliance rate, and rising.

In a briefing to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) earlier this month, the World Shipping Council (WSC) said the compliance rate experienced by its member companies had steadily increased since the 1 July implementation, with a high degree of awareness among supply chain parties, although there were still some challenges around the world.

The WSC told an IMO sub-committee that the 1 July entry into force of the requirements for packed containers to have a verified gross mass (VGM) as a condition for loading aboard ship had occurred “without any appreciable disruptions to international containerised supply chains”, adding: “WSC Member companies report that a very significant number of packed containers − 95% or more − are being accompanied by VGMs prior to initial vessel loading. This percentage has steadily increased since 1 July, and we expect compliance rates to continue to rise.”

It added: “There is already a high degree of awareness amongst supply chain parties about the VGM requirements, and carriers are systematically engaging shippers who still are not providing VGMs.”

The WSC said it was too soon to assess the accuracy of the VGM information provided, although carriers “already are using various tools to pursue VGMs that manifestly are incorrect”.

WSC said one continuing challenge was the updating of terminal operating systems and terminals’ ability to communicate VGM information to maritime carriers, “including providing final load lists using the BAPLIE 2.2 format”. It added: “Carriers have identified the BAPLIE 2.2 as an industry best practice to demonstrate compliance with the requirement to obtain a VGM before loading packed containers aboard ship to port state control authorities.” |CLECAT 2016 |Issue 35 |2016 5

It said some terminals’ inability to provide final load lists using this BAPLE 2.2 format required carriers to identify and use workarounds to ensure that the shipboard computers have pertinent VGM information. “We expect that this will only be a temporary situation,” WSC added.

However, another challenge continues to be compliance with individual IMO Member governments’ VGM documentation requirements, WSC noted. “While it is fully understood that implementation and enforcement of the SOLAS VGM provisions is the prerogative of the individual port and flag states, it is to be hoped that Administrations will show understanding for the fact that the maritime industry as a truly global industry will be aided by implementation schemes that remain as close to the IMO Guidelines as possible and not impose excessive additional documentation requirements such as the capturing of signatures in paper format,” the WSC added.

WSC said the IMO’s call for “a practical and pragmatic approach” when verifying compliance in the first three months has been helpful for avoiding major disruptions of international containerized maritime traffic during the implementation phase-in. “At the same time, the high rates of compliance observed to date demonstrate that the VGM requirements are practical and attainable,” it added.

The WSC noted that this three-month period of light-touch or “pragmatic” enforcement would expire by the end of September, and requested continued understanding from regulators.

“From October 1 onwards, we encourage an understanding by regulators and enforcers that the industry has been, and is, working diligently and cooperatively towards the end goal of having all packed containers accompanied by VGMs,” the WSC said. “A small residual number of exception cases should not detract from the fact that the overwhelmingly majority of packed containers are already in compliance with these important safety requirements.”

Source: Lloyd's Loading List

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