The new container weighing regulations which take effect globally from July1, were introduced to enhance maritime safety and reduce the dangers to containerships, their crews and all those involved throughout the maritime supply chain.
The new rules merely require the shipper to provide an accurate VGM to the carrier or the terminal operator using the prescribed methods in the IMO rules. Where the shipper undertakes the weighing process himself to determine the VGM and notifies this to the carrier or terminal operator in the agreed manner, there is no justification for any VGM charge
to be applied.
The maritime sector has sought the introduction of these new rules to enhance maritime safety. It is a reasonable expectation of shippers that carriers and terminal operators will put in place procedures for acceptance of a VGM. This is no different to arrangements previously in place prior July 1, except that the shipper must now provide an accurate VGM
in compliance with the new rules. There
is consequently no justification for carriers and terminal operators to apply any charge for a shipper making an accurate
Regrettably GSF members, mainly in Asia and Africa, report that some carriers and other ‘service providers’ appear to be exploiting the introduction of the new VGM rules by imposing exorbitant and unjustified charges for questionable and unspecified “administration fees” and other “services”.
The GSF is calling for those charges to be withdrawn immediately. The GSF is currently examining the following examples provided by members and will be taking them up with the service providers:
China: The global forwarding company Kuhne and Nagel is charging a VGM administration fee for all K&N shipments booked in China - specifically US$ 12.75 for full containers if shippers are using the K&N electronic VGM system, or US$ 25.00 for manual data entry.
Similarly, OOCL Logistics have announced that they will be charging a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) Administration Fee of US$ 15 per document for all exports from China.
Nigeria: The logistics and shipping firm Grimaldi Agency Nigeria have notified customers that they will weigh containers on departure at a cost of N20,000 per 20 foot container and N40,000 per 40 foot.
Sri Lanka: GSF members have advised that shipping lines are considering charging shippers US$ 25 for submitting the VGM, and, in cases where the final weight differs from the booked weight, an additional charge of US$ 50 for amending the VGM.
UK & Ireland: The ports group DP World, which owns both Southampton and London Gateway ports, impose a £1.00 charge for VGMs provided prior to arrival (rising to £3.00 after box arrival but before 24 hour cut off).
Chris Welsh, GSF Secretary-General, said: “Shippers worldwide support the safety goals of the container weighing requirements and are committed to fulfilling their regulatory requirements, but this should not be used by supply chain partners as an excuse to impose
unjustified fees. “This is particularly concerning for developing countries, especially in Africa and Oceania, which according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) pay 40 to 70 per cent more on average for the international transport of their imports than
developed countries (UNCTAD Maritime Report, 2015).”