• Virtually all goods are transported in containers at some stage.

17.10.2017 By: Marco Wölfli

Artikel Nummer: 20389

26 million hazardous containers

In principle, the rules of the cargo transport unit code apply to all packaged loads on all modes of transport. However, there are some major problems with implementation. Industry organisations and a freight forwarding insurer are now hoping for more support from the member states of the IMO in their quest for safer transport.


The cargo transport unit code, or CTU code for short, was introduced in 2014, in order to define guidelines for the safe packaging of goods in containers. Despite the importance of this issue, the guidelines are clearly not being observed with the same sincerity around the world. On the occasion of the London International Shipping Week the industry organisations Global Shippers Forum (GSF), ICHCA International, the World Shipping Council (WSC) and the freight forwarding insurer TT Club made a strong appeal to delegates of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). They demanded that the CTU code finally be implemented comprehensively.



Lack of sense of danger

Chris Welsh, secretary-general of the GSF, said that “there’s a need for action, and we’d like the authorities of the IMO states to proactively support this industry initiative.” Peregrine Storrs-Fox is director of risk management at TT Club and knows the risks emanating from improper transport. “It is precisely containers for seafreight that are often packaged far away from the port, in factories or warehouses. At such sites, there is often a lack of awareness of what can happen if steel rolls or chemicals are badly secured.”


The consequences end up with TT Club, in the form of overturned trucks, derailed trains, leaked ­li­quids, or fires on vessels or in ports. It is difficult to put a figure on just how many containers are indeed badly secured. The group of four announced that reliable statistics are missing, due to the negligence of the authorities concerned. ICHCA Inter­national nevertheless attempted to compile figures. In doing so it took recourse to UN trade statistics as well as occasional inspections of containers over the past 15 years.



Vermin in containers

According to the results of their investigation, approximately 26 million containers are badly secured every year, with their contents insufficiently packaged, meaning that they constitute a hazard during transport operations. A further risk for containers is vermin, which tra­vels from continent to continent on a container’s voyage, without ever being noticed. Lars Kjaer,
senior vice-president of WSC, explained that “carriers must ensure that the containers supplied by them are clean and free of vermin.” Even if the boxes are in the care of a forwarder, they need to do all they can to avoid hazardous soiling.


According to the four organisations, some of the reasons for the difficult implementation of the CTU code are a lack of training of the persons involved, language barriers as well as highly-complex inter­national supply chains. However, they nevertheless hope to improve the current situation, by collaborating with the IMO’s member states. 


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