960 - 04/14 - Cargo Shortage Claims - West Africa

The UK Club has faced increasing instances of cargo shortage claims in relation to rice cargo in bags during discharge at West Africa.

In a recent case where a member’s vessel visited the ports of Abidjan in Ivory Coast and Conakry in Guinea, the vessel faced a shortage of a large number of bags, loss of cargo due to empty or half filled bags.

Although there is no reported use of hooks in handling the bags, there are a large number of bags which are damaged during the course of the discharge. The damage to the bags may be caused by deliberate cutting in order to pilfer the rice, or when the bags are roughly handled and discharged. Bags are also discharged by the use of rope slings instead of net slings, which leads to the bottom bags often being torn or bags slipping from the slings and falling on the dock, leading to the bags tearing. Tearing of the bags also occurs due to the bags being pulled from inside the hatch coamings to the open working spaces using the ships cranes, which leads to chafing and tearing of the bags.

The bags are generally loaded onto trucks which then discharge them in the port warehouse. Here the discharge is done using forklifts which puncture the bags and cause further losses.

Cargo shortage claims are brought up on the basis of tally figures from the surveyors appointed by cargo receivers and it is advised that a competent surveyor is appointed by the Members to take tally and monitor the discharge of cargo so that any incorrect figures may be contested. The tally figures of the different surveyors can often have substantial differences.

The Member’s surveyor can also be instructed to carry out joint surveys of the weighing of the partially full bags to better estimate the cargo shortage.

As a usual course of practice at these ports, the agents appoint a watchman at the gangway, but a proactive approach from the crew regarding pilferage and proper discharge of cargo can help in protecting Members’ interests to a great degree.

Members are also guided to read previous club bulletins related to rice cargoes, especially Bulletins 469, 852 and 853. 

Source of information

Anuj Velankar

UK P&I Club Loss Prevention Dept


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