Federal Government is to establish weigh-stations at the nation’s seaport to beat the new International Maritime Organisation, IMO, law that makes it compulsory for all consignment meant for export to be weighed before leaving their port of origin.
The law is expected to take effect from the 1st of July, 2016. A senior staff in the ministry of transportation, who disclosed this to Vanguard in Abuja on condition of anonymity, said that government is considering whether to construct the weigh-stations directly before concessioning them or construct them on a Public-Private Partnership basis.
The ministry top shot told Vanguard that they are expecting a recommendation to that effect from the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, at the end of the just concluded workshop themed, “Transport cost and regional connectivity of African countries.”
An official of the NSC who confirmed this to Vanguard explained that he could not speak officially on the issue as they have not sent their recommendation to the ministry but assured that they will work at beating the deadline for the implantation of the new policy.
The NSC official said that they also considered the option of allowing terminal operators to handle the weighing of such consignments but reasoned that the terminal operators may use it as a means of further exploiting Nigerian shippers. Stakeholders at the Abuja workshop had kicked against the 1st July, 2016 commencement date because most countries in the sub-region except Ghana are not ready.
They were however reminded by the Chris Welsh, Secretary General of Global Shippers Forum, GSF, the resource person that the new law was passed by the IMO in 2014. Walsh said member countries had the opportunity to contest the implementation last year before the agreed implementation date this year. He explained that mis-declaration of container weight has led to significant losses to shippers and shipping lines.
According to him, the shipper is responsible for obtaining and documenting, the verified gross mass of the packed container, the verified gross mass must be communicated to the ship’s master or the shipping line terminal representative prior to loading of the ship, the communication should be signed by a duly authorised representative of the shipper (maybe an electronic signature.)
He also stated that packed containers will not be loaded on ships unless the verified mass is provided to the master (in practice the shipping line or the line’s agent).
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