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Patrick container weight variance fee spurs concern

Charging road haulage firms as a mechanism is unfair: CTAA


The move of stevedore Patrick Terminals to charge shippers for mis-declared weights of imported containers has raised road haulage concern about how this will be implemented.

Patrick announced on November 5 that it would enforce a fee of $230 plus GST for any container that is found to be 1 tonne more or less than advised.

The fee is called ‘Weight Amendment Fee for Import Containers – Weigh and Adjustment charge’, that began in Brisbane at the start of the month and is due to be rolled out in other major container ports.    

Certainly, overweight containers are a menace to the safety of trucks, ships and container-handling generally but, in a move like that of container access charges, Patrick is levying the fee on haulage firms.

“Patrick will provide the Carrier with access to the amended weight (including a link to the certified weighing certificate) confirming the weight discrepancy,” it says in its November notice that notes containers will be weighed using a Pondus Stand.

Read about the container transport safety initiative, here

In its own notice to industry, Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) questions why the fee is not being charged directly to the importer.

“It is the shipper (exporter in the port of origin, and the importer / consignee in Australia) who is responsible for the container’s Verified Gross Mass (VGM) declaration under the International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention at the time of its loading in the port of origin,” CTAA says.

“An accurate VGM for every container is law in Australia via Marine Orders Part 42 of the Navigation Act, administered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

“Also, under the HVNL, the entity responsible for engaging the road transport operator (be it a forwarder or importer) to carry the container on a public road is responsible for providing a complying Container Weight Declaration (CWD) to the transport operator / driver.

“Clearly, if the check weighing undertaken by Patrick Terminals discovers a weight discrepancy, then the CWD provided to the transport operator will not be compliant if it differs from the verified weight, and the entity engaging the transport will be in breach of the law.

“The question remains then that if the Weight Amendment Fee is not charged directly to the importer, how will behaviour change in future to ensure that subsequent shipments have an accurate declared VGM?

CTAA reports that Patrick’s response to its questions was: “The Weight Amendment Fee (charge) is being levied on the party in the supply chain with the most proximate relationship to the shipper and the ability to communicate with the shipper in respect of the Pondus weight. For imports this is the transport operator and for exports this is the shipping line.”

CTAA believes Patrick is applying the fee because of its current invoicing and fee payment relationship with transport operators for a range of other fees and charges but points out that the mechanism suits only the stevedore and is unfair on transport operators.

It reports Patrick as saying carriers will be advised promptly and it will explore the option with 1-Stop for payment of the Weight Amendment Fee to be made via DirectPay “in due course”.


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