West Africa: Heavy shortage of bagged rice


Published: 6 November 2012

Dry Cargo: Heavy Shortage of Bagged Rice Experienced in West Africa, Cargo Loaded in India

We have very recently been notified by our correspondents in West Africa, TCI Africa, that there has been several incidents over the last few weeks in which a serious problem of shortlanded bags of rice have occurred (between 3,000 and 5,000 bags on each voyage). Having checked, all of these vessels had loaded their cargo in Kakinada, India.

Upon receipt of the above information we promptly contacted our local correspondents in India, Pandi Correspondents PVT Ltd, in order to get their comments on what the reason for such shortlandings might be. We were told that there has been no change in the loading procedure at Kakinada recently and that their procedures have been in place for a long time. However in order to minimize the risk of shortage and other problems during the loading operations, they have provided the below comments and loss prevention steps that they recommend Members to take in order to safeguard their interests:

  1. It is highly recommended to appoint competent surveyors to carry out preloading inspection/continuously tally on board at Kakinada to ensure that only sound bags are loaded and reject the cut/torn bags and to meticulously carry out tally of the loaded bags.
  2. Kakinada being an anchorage Port, the entire cargo to be loaded on board is received through Steel Barges which are placed alongside vessel and cargo loaded into the vessel's hatches using ships own handling gear using rope net slings.
  3. Preliminary inspection of the cargo is ideally done on shore whilst the cargo is brought from the Shippers inland godowns by trucks and loaded into the Barges to eliminate the damaged, cut / torn and heavily stained bags if any brought by the trucks.
  4. Although the cargo loaded in the Barges is suitably covered by tarpaulins during the Barges' transit to the vessels at anchorage, it is possible that some of the bags loaded in barges may get wet due to rough sea conditions and or rain. Hence it is essential that the cargo is inspected when the Barges are placed alongside vessel and prior to loading of cargo on board the vessel.
  5. Inspection on the condition of bags being loaded on board is essential to eliminate the cut / torn bags from the slings and from the hatches which normally result owing to the compressional pressure within the rope net sling loads of bags and sometimes due to poor quality of the bags themselves.
  6. Although vessel is responsible for the number of bags loaded and not the quality of cargo, it is advisable to keep a watch out for any visible signs of weevils or other infestation, if any, and take appropriate action.
  7. To ensure that dunnaging of cargo inside the hatches is undertaken by the Shippers under the supervision of the vessel's Officers and as per the prevailing guidelines provided by the vessel's P&I Club.
  8. It is needless to add that strict vigilance to be maintained to ensure that no hooks are used for handling the bags under any circumstances.
  9. Due to congestion at the Kakinada anchorage where lot of vessels are loading Rice in bags and due to paucity of barges the loading takes longer time sometimes for more than a month to complete the loading operation. Therefore, adequate labour has to be employed by the surveyors all through the period of their tally/inspection.
  10. Additionally, in some cases, we were asked to appoint surveyors for carrying out analysis of moisture content in the cargo and preloading sampling is done at the shippers' godowns/transit sheds.
  11. On behalf of owners, we have in the past appointed surveyors for carrying out the preloading inspection and tally and so far we have not received any complaints of shortlandings at the discharge ports.

It is notable that in the vast majority of the recent cases of heavy shortlandings experienced in West Africa, such pre-loading surveys had not been carried out in the load port in India.

If Members would like to appoint a competent surveyor for pre-loading surveys, then they are welcome to contact the Club's local correspondents directly, whose details can be found on the Club web site. Alternatively Members may contact their appointed P&I claims handler for direct assistance in appointing correspondents/surveyors.