From 1 July this year the IMO has mandated under an amendment to the SOLAS Convention that shippers provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for all ocean containers before they are loaded aboard the vessel for the purposes of the stowage plan.
“It is a very challenging regulatory change,” Jim Whalen, president Asia for INTTRA, told a briefing in Singapore on Tuesday.
“INTTRA has had a significant role of raising awareness about this regulatory change.”
INTTRA is rolling out an electronic VGM (eVGM) system, which allows shippers to electronic submission of the required data for submission. With the VGM data being required for stowage planning this means that the submission needs to be made around three days before the ship arrives in port according to Inna Kuznetsova, president and coo of INTTRA.
There still remains considerable confusion as to how carriers and terminals will treat boxes where the VGM arrives less than three days before the vessel arrives.
Kuznetsova said one terminal said that if there was no VGM three days before the container will not be allowed through the gate. “That’s very harsh,” she commented.
However, the terminal’s reasoning is that it has limited yard space and does not know how many containers it would need to store. Other terminals are taking the approach of if there is no VGM the container will not be loaded, but will be allowed in the terminal.
“The absence of a common standard is what makes this difficult,” she said.
Some lines such as Hapag-Lloyd and UASC, which are both INTTRA users, have issued their guidelines.