Cebu Port Authority rewrites VGM rules

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THE Cebu Port Authority (CPA) has issued a new policy revising the implementation of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention verified gross mass (VGM) requirement at Cebu ports, designating an authorized cargo-handling service provider to conduct the mandatory weighing.

The policy refers to a new regulation under the SOLAS Convention that no container may be loaded upon a vessel unless the gross mass of the fully packed and sealed container is verified.

The reason for the policy, which was inspired by the disastrous wreck of the containership MSC Napoli in 2007, was that prior to its implementation the weight of cargo in shipping containers was not usually accurately known, which could lead to ships being overloaded or unevenly loaded, putting crews at risk.

Administrative Order (AO) 02-2016 dated August 24 and published on September 6 and September 13 revokes AO 01-2016, which took effect on July 1. AO 02-2016 takes effect on September 28.


Under the new rule, “upon delivery of the shipper’s packed outbound container to the CIP [Cebu International Port] for receiving/gate-in, the same shall undergo mandatory weighing in accordance with and for the purposes mentioned in CPA Administrative Order 01-2008 [Policy and Guidelines for Mandatory Weighing of Loaded Outbound Foreign Container Vans] dated 28 February 2008, by the truck scale facility/facilities of the CHSP [cargo-handling service provider] servicing foreign cargoes at the CIP which is/are duly authorized by the authority.”

CPA said over the weekend that “it made the amendment in line with CPA Board Resolution 489-2016 adopted on August 24, and “in response to some concerns raised by port stakeholders” on the implementation of AO 01-2016.”

AO 02-2016 covers all packed export containers for loading onto ships at the Cebu International Port (CIP), and all ships carrying export containers that are docked either at the CIP or at other ports within the territorial jurisdiction of the authority.

The weight of the container as determined through mandatory weighing under AO 01-2008 will be considered as the VGM to be used for stowage purposes by the shipping lines and the CHSP; hence, the weight should also be furnished to the CHSP and shipping lines.

The previous rule under AO 01-2016 required the shipper to obtain the VGM and submit it to the shipping line and CHSP before the container is allowed entry to CIP. The old rule also required the container to undergo weighing upon entering the port, pursuant to AO 01-2008, so the shipper-declared VGM can be verified.

AO 02-2016 also orders that the VGM of the packed outbound container should appear on an all-weather, heavy-duty sticker on the container, signed by the shipper or the authorized representative.

The shipper, the new rule states, will shoulder the cost of weighing a packed container for VGM determination, including the cost of the sticker to be provided by the authorized weighing facility at CPA ports.

Persons or entities that violate CAO 02-2016 will have their issued permit or accreditation suspended or revoked without need of judicial proceedings after due notice and hearing.

Effective on July 1, the amendment to the SOLAS Chapter IV, Part A, Regulation 2, requires shippers to verify the VGM of a packed container and indicate this to the carrier or port operator before the shipment is loaded onto the vessel.

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