Container shipping lines Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, HMM and OOCL, among others, have introduced fines for shippers that mis-declare hazardous cargoes.
The TT Club, for one, has welcomed this move as international transport insurers have growing concerns about lax cargo packing practices and erroneous (or fraudulent) declaration of cargoes. This behaviour is suspected as being either the cause of, or at least contributing to, the wave of container ship fires in recent months.
“Clearly, the shipper has primary responsibility to declare fully and honestly so that carriers are able to take appropriate actions to achieve safe transport,” said Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s risk management director.
“Since this is not always the case, carriers have to put in place increasingly sophisticated and costly control mechanisms to ‘know their customers’, screen booking information and physically inspect shipments. Equally, carriers have the opportunity to review any barriers to accurate shipment declaration, including minimising any unnecessary restrictions and surcharges.”
He said that penalising shippers where deficiencies are found should be “applauded”, adding that government enforcement agencies should be encouraged to take appropriate action to deter poor practices further.
The TT Club’s Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code) can be seen here.