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Jamaican terminals seek solutions for shippers to meet SOLAS container weight regulations

Published:Tuesday | May 17, 2016 | 5:00 AM

Jamaica's two major cargo ports this week said they are looking at ways to assist local exporters and other supply chain stakeholders to comply with the pending amendment to the International Maritime Organisation Save Our Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention.

The amendment, to which Jamaica is a signatory, takes effect on July 1, 2016. After that, all containers must have a verified gross mass (VGM) before they are loaded onto a ship.

Kingston Wharves Limited has confirmed its intention to comply with all local and international regulations regarding the new container weight rules. In this regard, the terminal said it was currently finalising its purchase of scales and other facilities for verifying container weight. It said it expects to have these facilities up and running within a six-week period.

Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited also said it was assiduously pursuing solutions intended to help its clients meet the requirements of the SOLAS amendment. In confirming this, a company spokesperson noted that the terminal recognised the importance of the VGM regulations and the need to comply with international standards in this regard.

Under the amendments, shippers must provide VGM information to both the carrier and container terminal operator before the cargo is loaded onto a vessel. The ship's captain has the right to refuse the container without this certification.

The SOLAS regulations seek to ensure that the weight of a packed container is accurately measured and certified in order to avoid endangering life and property often caused by overweight containers which are improperly loaded. Sometimes these containers whose weights have been mis-declared end up falling or slipping from their moorings onboard ship or during their transportation, causing ships to capsize or leading to injury or death.