Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has embarked on sensitising exporters on new global cargo weight safety rules, as it seeks to beat the July 1 deadline.
The amended Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, which was adopted by International Maritime Organisation (IMO) last year, makes it mandatory for shippers to verify the gross weight of every export cargo prior to loading it on ship.
The new amendments are meant to curb dishonest incidents of under-declaring the weight of cargo, an anomaly that is largely blamed for a number of costly shipping accidents. In the recent past, there have been cases of ships sinking, cargoes destroyed and environment harmed due to marine accidents that sometimes result in hazardous cargo spilling into the sea.
KMA researcher Joyce Awino said the ships have been depending on the honesty of exporters, but this has not been effective. Awino said: “One out of every five containers are under-declared. Even at our port (Mombasa) we have incidents of wires snapping when weighing the container.”
KMA acting Director General Cosmas Cherop said that with the maritime sector accounting for about 92 per cent of Kenya’s international trade, adopting global measures will help boost trade benefits.
With Kenya as a signatory to the IMO rules, all its packed containers meant for export will not be loaded onto a ship unless a verified actual gross mass of the container is provided by the shipper.
In addition, shippers will have to provide the shipping documentation stating the method used for verification. No cargo will access the port without these documents.
It is against this backdrop that KMA is engaging industry players to educate them on compliance measures as well as iron out challenges that are anticipated with adopting new regulation.
Gilbert Langat, CEO of the Shippers Council of East Africa, said in a statement that it is important for the shippers to understand the rules, so that they do not suffer unnecessary penalties.
He challenged the Government to come up with policies that can bring down the cost of production in order to make the exports competitive. Under the new regulations, shippers will have an option but to weigh the export containers using calibrated and certified equipment.