Maritime insurer has growing concerns about misdeclaration of cargo

A number of container lines have recently announced measures to discourage shippers from mis-declaring hazardous cargoes.

TT Club welcomes such initiatives by liner operators as the international transport insurer has growing concerns about the lax cargo packing practices and erroneous, sometimes fraudulent, declaration of cargoes.

This is a practice strongly suspected as being either the cause of, or at least contributory to, the spate of container ship fires in recent months.

Under the banners ‘Cargo Integrity’ and #Fit4Freight, TT Club has been collaborating with stakeholders through the freight supply chain to highlight on-going risks, including severe ship fires, arising from poorly packed and declared cargo.

In light of the increase in incidents, the loss of life, significant costs and delays to cargo deliveries, the lines are strengthening their inspection procedures and imposing fines on those shippers found to have mis-declared.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s Risk Management Director commented, “Clearly, the shipper has primary responsibility to declare fully and honestly so that carriers are able to take appropriate actions to achieve safe transport.

“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.

“Penalising shippers where deficiencies are found should be applauded.

“Furthermore, government enforcement agencies are encouraged to take appropriate action under national or international regulations to deter poor practices further.”

TT Club’s Cargo Integrity campaign seeks not only to promote awareness of good practice, such as set out in the CTU Code, but also to reveal the plethora of influences from both direct and indirect stakeholders within the supply chain that result in behaviours leading to dangerous incidents on land or at sea.

“A key element of the campaign is to identify levers – both sticks and carrots – that are available to improve a safety culture in container transport, including considering unintended consequences inherent in trading arrangements or fiscal/security interventions and the possibilities presented by technological innovation.”

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