Shippers meet in Accra to build capacities

Shippers and maritime professionals from nine West and Central African countries are meeting in Accra to build their capacity on container weight verification requirements for cargo vessels and other regulations.

The five-day regional sensitisation workshop, which opened yesterday, is to ensure that containers that bring cargo into the countries are not overloaded thereby causing accidents and loss of lives and property.

Organised by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the participants include maritime administrators, shipping lines and freight forwarders.

They are drawn from Ghana, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principle, The Gambia and Guinea Bissau with facilitators from South Africa and Turkey.

They would be taken through amendments to chapter six of the IMO Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) convention on Verified Gross Mass of a container carrying cargo which came into effect in July 2016.

The amendments mandate the verification of the gross mass of a packed container before loading on board to allow for a stowage plan to be drawn.

The IMO Regional Coordinator for West and Central Africa (Technical Cooperation Division), Captain Dallas Laryea, said the workshop was important because out of about 90 per cent of goods transported by sea, 60 per cent were packed in containers thus inefficiencies would have dire consequences.

He cited incidents including the sinking of the MSC Napoli in 2007, the capsizing of the MV Deneb in 2011 and the loss of MOL Comfort in 2013 led to the loss of life and property as the basis for the amendments.

“The aim of the amendments is to complement the existing provisions aimed at stability and safe operation of container ships, including face packing, handling and transport of containers,” he said.

Captain Dallas Laryea said the training was in line with the IMO’s duty of enhancing the capacity of member states to enforce the state’s obligations and expressed the hope that member states would discharge their duties.

“[This will] prevent loss of seafarer lives, container ships, damage to the maritime environment as well as disruptions to global supply chain,” he said.

The Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, said Ghana in complying with the IOM convention had developed a new shipping regulation that came into force in March this year to ensure that shipping was done safely.

 “Just one overloaded or poorly parked container with its contents unevenly distributed or improperly declared can have some serious consequences,” he said and urged stakeholders to comply with the conventions and regulations.

The Director-General of the GMA, Thomas Alonsi, said participants’ knowledge would be enhanced in instances where packages and cargo items should not be loaded onto a ship.

He said it would cover contingencies for containers received without verified gross mass and the ship mater’s ultimate decisions whether or not to stow a packed container.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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