Container Weight: Who is responsible for VGM?
In January of 2015, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require – as a condition for loading a packed container on to a ship for export, that the container has a verified gross mass (VGM).
20Cube provided an update to our clients earlier this month on the issues that shippers must address and the potential consequences for not doing so.
With the legislation due to start from 1 July 2016, there are still some in the industry asking who is ultimately responsible for VGM.
While the immediate answer is that it is the responsibility of the port where the weighing and weight verification should occur (as it is the last stop before shipping), our view is that it is too late in the supply chain and does not align with the purpose of the legislation. Safety is a consideration for road transport as much as it is for sea freight.
The responsibility ultimately lies with the shipper (i.e. the sender of goods), who has the responsibility of obtaining the Verified Container Gross Mass and forwarding this information to relevant parties involved in moving the containers. By definition, the shipper is the legal entity or person indicated on the bill of loading (or sea waybill or its equivalent transport document), not the company that moves goods on their behalf.
Port and ship masters can only plan based on information provided to them, which means that ports do not need to prepare for the IMO/SOLAS changes: their role is to ensure proper stowage based on container weight information provided to them.