06.05.2016 – IMO’s amended SOLAS regulations requiring verification of a freight container’s gross mass will become mandatory from 1 July 2016. But many organisations – and nations – remain less than fully prepared for this significant change to global container supply chain operations. On 1 June, ICHCA International, the global cargo handling NGO, will hold a practical seminar “One Month to Go – Are You Ready?” in Antwerp, hosted by port training institute OCHA, to discuss industry preparations around the three main themes of compliance, communication and contingency planning.
With much confusion still surrounding how VGM will be regulated, the first session of the day will be dedicated to compliance. Matthew Gore, Partner at global law firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW), an ICHCA member, will be among the panellists. “It is expected that many Competent Authorities will be publishing their requirements shortly for implementation and enforcement in their jurisdictions, leaving very little time for the industry to act on these and be ready for 1 July,” reports Mr. Gore. “It is clear that different approaches and timetables are being followed in different jurisdictions. This has been clearly reflected when we canvassed some of our other offices which have also been actively working in this area with clients such as terminals, carriers, forwarders, shippers and others in the container supply chain to ensure readiness for 1 July.”
During the seminar, Matthew and other legal experts including Jos van der Meché of Dutch law firm AKD, will explore the different approaches to implementation being taken by national authorities across Europe and elsewhere, and discuss the compliance implications for various supply chain members and sectors, including European short sea shipping operations.
Another thorny issue on the table will be the approval and regulation of the equipment actually used for container weighing around the world, which appears to fall under national trade regimes related to weights and measures that are completely separate to the regulation of SOLAS itself. “While the physical problem of a lack of suitable weighing equipment will no doubt be an issue at the beginning, my main concern is the lack of a harmonised approach to the regulation of