Cargo shippers are now in charge to obtain and document the verified gross mass (VGM) of their packed containers, according to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) order that has taken effect this month.
PPA Administrative Order (AO) 02-2021, issued May 27, 2021 and in force starting June 16, provides the revised guidelines on the implementation of mandatory weighing of export containers.
The order covers “all export containers passing through government ports under the administrative jurisdiction of PPA.”
AO 02-2021 states that “the responsibility for obtaining and documenting the VGM of a packed container lies with the shipper,” a task previously handled by terminal operators. This, the AO said, is to align the practice with International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas) regulations.
Early this year, the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. and the Export Development Council lauded the proposed PPA policy as a positive move toward complying with the Philippines’ Solas VGM commitments. But they also requested PPA to ensure that implementing the AO would not add to the already heavy burden of exporters.
AO 02-2021 said the Solas regulations require the shipper to verify the gross mass of the packed container using either of two methods, and to communicate the VGM in a shipping document.
Method No. 1 entails weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified weighing equipment. Method No. 2 involves calculating the sum of the single masses—cargo items plus all packages including pallets, dunnage and securing material as well as the container tare weight—using a state-certified and approved method.
The shipper should then ensure the shipping document contains the required details including the VGM, container number, and booking or bill of lading number, among others.
The document should also be signed by a person duly authorized by the shipper and submitted in advance to the ship’s master and the terminal operator; otherwise, the packed container “shall not be loaded on to the ship,” the AO further stated. (PHILEXPORT NEWS AND FEATURES)