LONDON: A coalition of leading cargo industry organisations is pressing ahead with its campaign for safer practices in packing freight containers and other cargo transport units (CTUs), in effort to ensure the safety of operatives across the supply chain and the security of cargo.
During a meeting held at the IMO during London International Shipping Week, the group asked delegates of IMO member states for the backing of their governments to communicate the content, to encourage and oversee the use of the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code) within their jurisdictions.
The four industry bodies, Global Shippers Forum (GSF), ICHCA International, TT Club and World Shipping Council (WSC) participated in the experts group that created the comprehensive guidance for safe and secure packing of CTUs and was thereafter adopted by each of the UN agencies during 2014.
TT Club's Risk Management Director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox pointed out the importance of this awareness and enforcement of the Code: "The maritime freight container, in particular, has diversified the responsibility for safe cargo packing away from the historic concentration of expertise at quaysides and docks.
"Those packing containers at factories, warehouses and depots situated remotely from the port, or indeed from a railhead or other intermodal hub, are generally unaware of the consequences of a poorly packed steel coil and unsecured drum of hazardous chemicals. As a specialist insurer, TT Club continually sees the sad repercussions of truck rollovers and train derailments, cargo spillages, and explosions and fires at ports or on-board ships."
Credible statistics are hard to come by, partly due to a lack of engagement by state authorities with IMO's container inspection standard, but ICHCA International's Richard Brough made an attempt to estimate the extent of the problem based on UNCTAD trade statistics and the results of the relatively few inspections made during the last 15 years.
“Extrapolating from the UNCTAD figure of 180 million TEU traded, via the 24 per cent of inspected containers carrying dangerous goods (DG) that were found to be badly packed and bearing in mind that cargoes declared as DG make up only around 10 per cent of all containers, we can estimate that each year some 25.9 million containers are potentially poorly packed and pose a danger at some point on their journey along the supply chain."