The recent IMO Circular, issued on May 23, 2016 and urging ‘practical and pragmatic’ approach to enforcement of VGM over the first three-month settling-in period, was welcomed and it was noted that less than 15% of the 162 IMO Member States that are signatories to SOLAS have given shippers and operators in their jurisdiction any helpful guidelines regarding VGM procedures that become mandatory on July 1.
Mike Yarwood, Claims Manager from TT Club, said: “The recent IMO Circular is rightly good news for those that are taking appropriate steps to prepare for July 1.
“It is not – and should not be considered in any way – a panacea for the unprepared. Sympathetic enforcement for a limited period allowing for cargo already in the supply chain and resolution of teething problems in no way steps away from the safety objectives of these VGM amendments.”
TT Club has repeatedly pointed out that there was extensive stakeholder and international consultation leading to IMO’s adoption of the amendments to SOLAS in November, 2014.
The recent Maritime Safety Committee Meeting stated that the key to successful implementation of the VGM requirements is close communication and cooperation between governments and all industry stakeholders.
Mr Yarwood said: “Behavioural change through all aspects of the supply chain is required. Weight is a relatively small element of broader initiatives to engender safety and improve operational performance. Improved stakeholder communication is foundational.”
The Antwerp Seminar was a recent element of a long-running effort by the ICHCA and a number of trade bodies to create a greater awareness and understanding of the VGM regulation.
Captain Richard Brough, Technical Advisor to ICHCA International, said: “As July 1 approaches we see an increasing number of terminal operators announcing the service options they will offer to shippers to facilitate determining the VGM of export containers.
“Lifting equipment suppliers, carriers, forwarders and, with a few exceptions, shipper representatives have all engaged positively in order to identify the most appropriate way to comply, whether by Method 1 or Method 2.
“Sadly, where compliance is a shared responsibility, communication between all the different parties has too often been acrimonious rather than collaborative. As a result – a month out – contingency planning is now crucial for all stakeholders, to avoid a potentially disastrous impact on container supply chains.”
Both ICHCA and TT Club, together with the World Shipping Council (WSC) and the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) are determined to use the remaining weeks to continue their mission of education to those concerned with, and about, the regulation.