Kenya forms team to drive compliance with global shipping safety pact

Kenya has formed a committee to drive compliance with a global deal on shipping safety which comes into effect in July next year.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) recently adopted amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)onvention, which require mandatory verification of the gross weight of every packed export cargo container prior to loading on board a ship.

“In ensuring the requirements are implemented, a steering committee has been set up to draft the implementation action plan,” Kenya Ports Authority managing director Gichiri Ndua and the Kenya Maritime Authority acting director-general Cosmas Cherop said on Wednesday.

IMO, an agency of the United Nations charged with improving safety and security of shipping and prevention of pollution at sea, currently has 171 member states including Kenya which joined in 1973.

The committee comprises of Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, Container Freight Stations Associations, Shippers Council of East Africa, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association and Kenya Ships Agents Association.

The requirement of the Convention will come into force on July 1, 2016. Once in force, packed containers for export cannot be loaded onto a ship unless a verified actual gross mass of the container is provided by the shipper in aance and the shipping documentation state the method used for verification.

The convention grants shippers two alternative methods of verifying the gross weight of the packed export cargo containers.

Shippers have an option of weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified weighing equipment or weighing the packages separately and cargo items including the mass of pallets, dunnage, securing devices to be packed in the container’s tare weight to be the sum of the single masses using an approved process.

Governments that are signatory to the SOLAS convention will be responsible for ensuring compliance with its provisions at the various sea ports. Any incidence of non-compliance with the SOLAS requirements is enforceable according to national legislation and no ship will allowed to load containers whose gross weights have not been verified.

“Any costs associated with the non-loading, storage, demurrage or eventual return of the container to the tendering shipper of  the container should be subject to contractual arrangements  between the commercial parties,” the Convention reads in part.

Kenya has ratified 27 IMO conventions including those on the safety of life at sea, load lines, tonnage measurement of ships, international regulations for preventing collisions at sea and certification and watch keeping for seafarers.