HONG KONG's Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) has outlined the rules of compliance with the UN's demand for Verified Gross Mass of containers from July 1, by declaring "No VGM, no loading".
But shippers can simply declare the VGM together with the shipping instructions or separately through other channels. There is no checking mechanism is place.
OOCL encourages shippers to provide the information through electronic means and "we will publish details and guidelines on this communication method at a later date".
VGM should be signed by either the shipper or a person duly authorised by the shipper, said OOCL, adding that electronic or e-signatures are also acceptable.
INTTRA, the web portal through which many book space with major carriers, including OOCL, simply requires typing in a name in capitals, with no signature required. This is accepted by the carrier as verification.
As no party appears to check the shipper's declared verification - spot checks are loosely spoken of - it appears that a mere declaration will get one's box aboard.
OOCL's special webpage on the VGM problem said: "A container without a VGM is not allowed to load onto the vessel. Terminals observing the convention and/or local regulatory requirements will reject containers at the gate if no VGM is provided.
But the VGM appears to amount to no more than a declaration.
But not all is settled, said OOCL. "Currently the industry is in discussions with regulatory authorities to ascertain implementation details," said the company.
"China is a work in progress in meeting the new VGM requirements while addressing operational costs," said OOCL. "Its implementation is entrusted to the Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) under the Ministry of Transportation and we will keep customers posted in the months ahead."
The UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO), from whom these blessings flow, accepts two methods to obtain the VGM.
One can weigh the packed container using calibrated and certified weighing equipment.
Or one can calculate the sum of the single weights of all packages (pallets, dunnage, securing material packed in the container plus container tare mass itself) "as certified and approved by the national authorised body".
But it is against the rules to calculate the weight of scrap metal, unbagged grain or anything else shipped in bulk.
Source : SN-TR.