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New SOLAS amendment to cost shippers’ extra



A SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulation amendment would very soon (by 2016) require the production of a verified weight certificate with the consent of the shipper before containers can be loaded on-board a ship. This has become necessary due to the persistent challenge faced by the industry as a result of misdeclaration of cargo weight.

The issue of misdeclaring container weight has been a big challenge in the industry for some time now with many industry related accidents blamed on this particular challenge. Cranes and forklifts have been known to fall under weights, Lashings may break due to unplanned weight distribution on the stack of vessels, there is also the possibility of a ship becoming unstable and possibly break up if the cargo distribution is not as the declarations led the master to believe.

The break up and eventual sinking with its cargo of The MOL Comfort off Yemen and more recently the lost of over 500 containers by the Maersk Svenborg in a Bay of Biscay storm are but a few of accidents that have been partly attributed to misdeclaration of cargo weights. This and many others made it necessary for the IMO to this time around consider placing the onus of declaring cargo weight on the shipper.

According to the Loadstar,  one U.K. based shipping executive admitted that,  the problem of overweight containers was endemic in the container industry and while  identifying boxes destined for West Africa as being especially troublesome at the moment, he also viewed the problem as being “widespread” across other trades.

He further went on to add that  a  recent example was of a container declared as household effects, booked for Tema, with a gross weight of 12 tonnes. But which  actually contained 30 tonnes of soft drinks.

Added to that, some regional shipper councils have viewed the new amendments as unnecessary since there is no factual evidence that a serious problem of shippers misdeclaring container weights exists. Others also feel a container goes through so many other channels in the supply chain process and that the shipper should not be solely responsible for rightful weight declaration. The IMO on the other hand feels this is necessary to protect and safe guard life at sea.

The implementation of this regulation would then give rise to the question of how shippers would be able to know the exact weight of their cargo since weighing facilities may not be readily available at a shippers disposal. A possible solution is for shippers to patronize weighing bridges which of course is going to cost the shipper.

Furthermore, another appropriate solution could be the twistlock load sensing technology at the terminals. This technology installed on yard cranes and lift trucks would help determine the weight as container is being loaded.  The real time weighing of containers could prevent delays since actual weight could be sent to the TOS to ensure accurate weights are used in ship load plans. This could help achieve the objective of the new SOLAS amendment which is focused on ensuring accurate weights declared.

The flip side of this is that, the cost of installing this weight measuring technology on spreaders and its effective integration into terminal operating systems would be an extra cost for terminal operators. There is however, the potential for terminal operators to charge a token for offering these weighing services either from the shipping line or the shipper who is now mandated to provide accurate gross weight of cargo.

While this would serve as a return on investment for the terminal operators, it would on the other hand serve as an extra cost for the shipper. Indeed  one policy adviser to the European Shippers’ Council have been quoted by the Loadstar  to claim that  not only is the mandatory weighing of containers prior to shipment unnecessary, but could cost shippers worldwide an estimated $5 billion a year in extra costs.

In conclusion, the challenge of misdeclaration of cargo weight is a major issue that puts lives of seafarers’ at risk. Whether the weight is under-declared or over-declared it has an effect on the load plan of the ship. A misdeclared weight of a container also has a multiple effect on the entire journey of that particular ‘box’ through every stage of the supply chain process being it on the road, on the rails etc.

The IMO should therefore collaborate with the regional shipper councils’ to educate shippers on the implementation of this regulation as well as the need and importance of declaring the right cargo weights to ensure safety of life at sea. —Ghana Shipping Guide

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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