Just a few day away from the coming into force of SOLAS Verified Container Weigh regulation, terminal authorities around the world started the procedures to keep port’s dynamic nature during implementation.
According to the SOLAS amendment, containers will not be shipped if the shipper doesnt provide to the captain and the terminal the right information about the container’s Verified Gross Mass (VGM). If this previous process is avoided, the container will stay at the port until full compliance with the regulation.
Despite the criticism of diverse supply chain’s key players about the new rules, the deadline is still July 1st and there will be not extensions. Meanwhile, terminals are preparing their facilities and establishing parameter before July.
In Chile, maritime and port authorities are trying to reach an agreement on how the rules will apply. An article from Portalportuario.cl, mentions that authorities are focusing on the issue of who is going to certificate the scales for a correct weighing. Meanwhile, Ricardo Tejada, General Manager for the National Shippers Association (ANA) said that new SOLAS implementation could cause bottlenecks and delays in supply chain, at least for the first days: “In the beginning, even if we hope it will not be, there could be delays, because it is not clear how is it going to be done and because there are not enough scales in Chile to satisfy the demand “assured Tejada.
He noted that even though the rules do not mention a timeframe to supply the VGM to the captain and the terminal, ideally, it should be ready two days before, so the captain can organize the stowage plan in advance.
In Chile, the Chacabuco Port has been the first to install scales, with an investment of 60 million pesos.
Enrique Runin, Chacabuco’s General Manager checking a scale on the terminal. (http://portalportuario.cl)
At the other side of the Atlantic, in Europe, the Port of Barcelona became the pioneer in this country to develop an electronic procedure to declare the verified gross mass (VGM). This method includes the exchange of the necessary documents from the shipper to the carrier, and to the terminal.
In the UK, the largest box port of the country, the Felixstowe Port, recently announced that will allow containers to be delivered to the it´s terminals without the VGM, but if the shipper does not supply the information 24 hours before the vessel’s arrival, there will be a €77 charge for the container’s transport to and from any of the two weighing station situated on each side of the terminal.
The Arabian company DP World said that the London Port and South Hampton Port would also install equipment to verify containers weight, though they did not offer details about the way the system will operate.
In the United States, there is an opposite scenario. Port of Houston highlighted that the autorities will not accept containers that haven´t electronically Verified Gross Mass before arriving.
Up until now, the Seagirt Terminal in the Port of Baltimore has been the only port in the US to accept containers without the VGM, offering a weighing service at the port with their own scales, or let a third part to weigh the container and supply the VGM.
Though implementation’s deadline is getting closer, there is still some uncertainty about SOLAS amendments. Some people demand more time to adapt to the regulation. Some others are more optimistic and assume that if they can find an effective way of communication between shippers and terminals, regulation compliance will be much easier.