On the back of a spate of incidents in which has been the source on fires onboard container vessels, the digital freight forwarder iContainers highlighted that the shipping industry needs to pay attention to increasing misdeclared cargo.
Over the past two years there has been a noticeable, sharp increase in the number of container fires directly resulting from shippers’ dangerous misdeclared cargo.
Klaus Lysdal, vice president of operations at iContainers, has identified this is a vital issue that needs urgent attention. As he says in a statement, “Forwarders are still taking the shippers’ word for what’s loaded in the containers. But from a forwarder’s perspective, that tends to increase the risk. As he says, there are clients who are not well-versed in the shipping of hazardous cargo. This can put the forwarder at risk, especially if the shippers’ paperwork is not in order, either deliberately or due to lack of knowledge.
Klaus Lysdal has urged the shipping industry to take action and to face the problem before it gets any worse.
He said, “Some of the carriers’ initial steps to increase fines may help. But if this persists, it could result in mandatory manual inspections or similar moves to protect against these types of issues. Something like that would obviously lead to additional costs involved with shipping. But something has to happen as we cannot keep having fires happening onboard vessels.”
It is proven that during such incidents onboard, lives are being lost, while significant damage to the vessel and the cargoes will lead to increased shipping costs.
The latest incident involved the containership Cosco Pacific which reported a fire in its cargo hold containers. This was as a result of the cargo of lithium batteries that had been falsely declared as spare parts and accessories.