Skip to content

South African guidelines issued for implementation of container weight verifications

9 May 2016
– 2 Minute Read


The South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) has issued Marine Notice No 18 of 2016, providing guidelines for the implementation of container weight verifications. This is part of the South African Implementation of the Convention on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter VI, which requires shippers to verify the gross mass of containers prior to their being loaded on a ship.

According to Goscelin Gordon, associate in Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group’s Shipping & Logistics Practice, “There are two methods for verifying gross container mass. Method 1 is weighing a packed and sealed container; while Method 2 is weighing the contents of a container and adding it to the weight of the container itself using a certified method. SAMSA has accredited certain companies to act on its behalf to approve shippers using Method 2. A list of accredited companies is available here.

“Shippers should be aware that each container must be weighed separately. Importers should take note that, while containers may be shipped from foreign ports without being first weighed in the foreign port, any containers which are shipped through South African ports must comply with the SOLAS container weighing requirements. If a packed container is delivered to port without the shipper providing the verified gross mass of the container, the container should not be loaded onto a ship until the verified mass is provided,” she explains.

Gordon notes that SAMSA will enforce the SOLAS requirements via inspections, continuous audits and reporting non-conforming containers and or cargo information by third parties.

“If it is identified that a shipper has misdeclared the gross mass of a packed container, SAMSA may require an Admission of Contravention to be made and a fine paid, failing which the shipper may be prosecuted. In the event that a shipper was approved to use Method 2 and misdeclares a container weight, its approval may also be suspended or revoked and it will thereafter be obliged to use Method 1,” she notes.

“Finally,” adds Gordon, “it should also be noted that Transnet (acting through Transnet Port Terminals and Transnet National Ports Authority), the owner and operator of all commercial ports in South Africa, recently issued a statement that it will not be providing a weighing service to shippers.”