Container weight verification is for safety, not surcharges, say shippers

The Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) has blasted shipping lines, forwarders and terminal operators using the mandatory container weight verification process as an excuse to add more surcharges.

The GSF, which aims to stop container shipping surcharges within five years, said one of its members reported a $25 surcharge being imposed by one terminal in East Asia for just accepting a verified gross mass (VGM) declaration.

If the practice of “unjustified” fees charged for the provision of VGM data has not ended by the end of the year, the GSF said it intends to call on the IMO to review the implementation of the new regulation.

“Global shippers are angry at the way the new SOLAS requirement is being implemented by some carriers, forwarders and terminals around the world,” Chris Welsh, the GSF’s secretary-general, said in a release.

“The shipping industry campaigned vigorously for the introduction of this new requirement on safety grounds. It is therefore regrettable that many in the maritime supply chain, including some carriers, are using the opportunity of the new rules to levy unjustified and arbitrary surcharges on shippers. As part of GSF’s campaign to rid world trade of Surcharges by 2020 this practice has got to stop now!” he continued.

Welsh said the excessive surcharges are damaging the shipping industry’s reputation and its efforts to uphold safety standards.

“The wider shipping community including carriers, forwarders and terminals needs to remember that SOLAS stands for Safety of Life at Sea, not Serial Opportunities for Levying Additional Surcharges,” he quipped.


Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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