By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The local shipping community has welcomed the International Maritime Association’s (IMO) new container weight rule but stressed it was not willing to pay an additional fee for the process.
Speaking on behalf of the sector, Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council Chairman Sean Van Dort said that any additional charge would only burden the export industry.
“We welcome the regulations that would bring safety to the ships but we are in no way willing to pay US $ 25 for the weighing of a container. That is a dream. We already have a tariff of Rs.750. Our idea is to pave the way for the new rule without giving monopoly to anybody,” Van Dort told a recent maritime forum in Colombo.
He added that the council would not allow any service provider that would hold the shippers to ransom. It was stressed the weighbridge owners must be accredited by a government institution.
With regard to the implementation of the amended Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) convention, Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) General Manager Commercial and Marketing Tissa Wickramasinghe pointed out that Sri Lanka would first observe the actions of other countries before taking the leap.
“As a port operator, it is in our interest to facilitate the shippers, not be a barrier to the supply chain activities. Given the way the convention is moving, we will see how it is evolving globally. Only then we would like to follow the same practices,” noted Wickramasinghe.
However, he stressed that the measures must be consistent with the local stakeholder practical issues.
Currently the issue at hand in the local scenario is the point at which the weighing should take place.
While it is suggested the weighing should take place at the terminal, majority of the stakeholders is of the view that the process should take place at the export facilitation centre.
In the case of the container’s weight being verified at the terminal, it was said that there was little or no clarity on the course of action to be followed in the event the variation exceeds 400 kilogrammes.
While it remains unclear if the exporters could take the container out of the port in such an event, the processes to be followed and the costs involved too require further clarity.
According to CICT, such issues could only be resolved if the weighing is done outside the terminal.