By Nosa Alekhuogie
APM Terminals Apapa Limited and West Africa Container Terminal have put in place measures to ensure that any container loaded with shipping line for export has a valid Verified Gross Mass (VGM) in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation’s Safety Of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Regulations.
The APM Terminals established SOLAS Compliant Electronic Data Interchange capabilities with the shipping lines in Nigeria to share VGM information prior to vessel loading planning as well as to have its weighing instruments verified by the department of weights and measures of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
In 2014, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating international seaborne trade, approved amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, which as from 1st July 2016 will require verification and documentation of loaded containers before they can be loaded onto vessels.
This can be accomplished by either weighing the loaded container with calibrated and certified equipment, or weighing the cargo prior to loading and adding it to the tare weight of the empty container.
The purpose of the VGM regulations is to assure safety of the vessel, as well as dockworkers and other cargo handlers by preventing overweight or otherwise misrepresented containers from jeopardising shipments or container movements.
“Our first priority remains to ensure safe and efficient operations for the supply chain,” said APM Terminals Head of Global Operations, Jack Craig.
“It is crucial that these regulations are met in a way which does not create congestion bottlenecks that ultimately impose additional risk and cost for all stakeholders,” he added.
Export containers, which arrive at APM Terminal facilities without a valid VGM will be generally accepted, but as they are ineligible to load on a vessel, may be segregated and subject to additional re-handling and storage requirements.