Global Shippers Forum members, mainly in Asia and Africa, report that some carriers and other service providers are exploiting the new verified gross mass (VGM) weighing rules by imposing exorbitant and unjustified charges for questionable and unspecified “administration fees” and other “services.”
The GSF is calling for those charges to be withdrawn immediately. The GSF is currently examining the following examples provided by members and will be taking them up with the service providers:
China: The global forwarding company Kuhne and Nagel is charging a VGM administration fee for all K&N shipments booked in China – specifically $12.75 USD for full containers if shippers are using the K&N electronic VGM system, or $25 USD for manual data entry. Similarly, OOCL Logistics has announced it will be charging a VGM administration fee of $15 USD per document for all exports from China.
Nigeria: The logistics and shipping firm Grimaldi Agency Nigeria has notified customers that it will weigh containers on departure at a cost of N20,000 per 20-foot container and N40,000 per 40 foot.
Sri Lanka: GSF members have advised that shipping lines are considering charging shippers $25 USD for submitting the VGM, and, in cases where the final weight differs from the booked weight, an additional charge of $50 for amending the VGM.
United Kingdom and Ireland: The ports group DP World, which owns both Southampton and London Gateway ports, impose a £1.00 charge for VGMs provided prior to arrival (rising to £3.00 after box arrival but before 24 hour cut off).
Chris Welsh, GSF Secretary-General, said: “Shippers worldwide support the safety goals of the container weighing requirements and are committed to fulfilling their regulatory requirements, but this should not be used by supply chain partners as an excuse to impose unjustified fees.
“This is particularly concerning for developing countries, especially in Africa and Oceania, which according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) pay 40 to 70 percent more on average for the international transport of their imports than developed countries (UNCTAD Maritime Report, 2015).”
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Editor's Insight: The SOLAS VGM rules have not caused major delays in port activity as some had expected, which is good news. The rules do require additional time to weigh containers and calculate VGM weight, so there is a cost that needs to be shared by shippers and carriers.
In cases where the shipper undertakes the weighing process to determine the VGM and notifies this to the carrier or terminal operator in the agreed manner, additional VGM charges are not justifiable. 7-6-16 By Elliot Maras