GMA, IMO deepen efforts on vessel tonnage compliance at sea


The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) and the International Maritime Organisation have cautioned shippers in the sub-region to comply with amendments to chapter six of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention on Verified Gross Mass of a container carrying cargo.

Reports, according to the GMA, indicate that many vessels have been exceeding their container load limit – a phenomenon which has been contributing to accidents at sea and endangering safety of stakeholders in the maritime industry.

Speaking at an IMO regional workshop on amendments to SOLAS chapter VI in Accra, Director-General of the GMA, Mr. Thomas Alonsi, said it was important for countries and shippers to effectively implement the regulation in order to ensure safety at sea.

He explained there was the need to amend the provisions of SOLAS Chapter VI Regulation 2 following concerns raised regarding the mis-declaration of declared gross mass of packed containers, which presents safety risks to workers.

“The tragic incidents on board the MSC Napoli in 2007 and MOL Comfort in 2013 due to mis-declaration of gross masses of packed containers loaded on board the vessels were typical examples,” he indicated.

While the SOLAS Convention relates to the safety of ships at sea, the GMA is particular that shore based activities relating to the presentation of cargo are also fundamental to safe outcomes at sea.

This, Mr. Alonsi justified that when port equipment and infrastructure is prematurely worn out due to the handling of mis-declared gross masses of containers, it inadvertently causes major issues for the public and for shipping companies.

“These are the underpinning factors that require that packed containers’ gross masses are verified prior to stowage aboard ships, hence, the Amendment of SOLAS Chapter VI Regulation 2,” the GMA Chief added.

The enforcement of the SOLAS requirements regarding the verified gross mass of packed containers falls within the competency of SOLAS contracting governments to verify compliance within the SOLAS regulations.

As commitment to this regulation, the country’s Parliament has passed the Ghana Shipping (Carriage of Containers) Regulations for implementation.

The IMO’s Regional Coordinator for West and Central Africa, Captain Dallas Eric Laryea, said main objective of the workshop was to enhance knowledge in areas of responsibilities regarding the verification and documentation of the gross masses of packed containers, and the instances where packages and cargo items should not be loaded onto a ship to which the SOLAS regulations apply.

He said the IMO will continue to amend conventions and protocols in accordance with technological developments or incidents, while developing standards and making regulations to ensure that safety of the global maritime industry is prioritised.

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