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Shipping & Logistics

Maritime agency tightens weighing of export cargo

When weights are wrong, listing can occur, causing financial and environmental losses. FILE PHOTO | NMG
When weights are wrong, listing can occur, causing financial and environmental losses. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Maritime Authority and the ports manager KPA have joined hands to ensure exporters comply with container weight limit to secure the Mombasa port from blacklisting under the new international standards.

The maritime authority has approved 67 firms to weigh containers and so far licensed 20.

The International Maritime Organisation amended the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas) chapter on cargo information that came into force on July 1 2016 requiring exporters to adhere to weight limit for containers.

KMA acting director general Cosmas Cherop said so far the regulator has licensed 20 firms to weigh containers.

Misdeclared cargo weights within the supply chain damaged port terminals, railways, and roads due to excessive weight and uneven weight distribution on ships which may lead to damage of the ship.

The IMO regulations place the responsibility of providing the verified gross mass of a container on the shipper. The shipper may outsource the weighing and packing of containers.

The maximum weight limit was adopted after accidents relating to overweight containers, resulting to poor balancing of the vessels which may lead to a vessel “listing”, a shipping term meaning leaning.

Listing may result in financial loss and environmental disaster. The KMA has so far approved 67 firms to provide the services, most them manufacturers.

At least 14 of them are third party operators who weigh the containers and certify that they are of required weight.

Some of the firms listed as third party providers of the service include SGS Kenya, Bureau Veristas and Polucon Services.

Mr Cherop said the KMA would ensure that the law is implemented to avoid a situation where Mombasa port risks blacklisting.

The Kenya Ports Authority manager in charge of operations Sudi Mwasingo said they were sensitising all port staff to ensure the law is fully operational.

“The authority has also acquired equipment designed for weighing that can be interfaced with Terminal Operating System to address the issue of weighing equipment accuracy and manual handling and benchmark with other ports implementing Solas amendments,” he said.

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