The FMC Quietly Wields Its Power
WCMTOA back away from chassis service fee
This summer has shown just how powerful the Federal Maritime Commission is, even when all they do is publicly say they are willing to take a closer look at an issue.
In June FMC Chairman Mario Cordero issued a statement regarding complying with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Verified Gross Mass amendment that pretty much ended the controversy over who was going to be responsible for verifying the weight of a container. He warned stakeholders that their dawdling over this issue “will invite increased scrutiny by the Commission.” Presto! Problem solved.
In July shipper complaints about a lack of transparency by PierPass in setting its fees for expanded gate hours brought this statement by Cordero: “The FMC is concerned because of the concerns expressed by the stakeholders. We will look into the basis of the increase.” He also noted that a team from the FMC had in-fact visited the PierPass office last year to scrutinize its books and that PierPass is now working with the executive directors of the Ports of L.A. and L.B. on a third-part auditor. Imagine that!
In August chassis-leasing companies Direct ChassisLink, Flexi-Van Leasing and Trac Intermodal filed a petition with the FMC to stop terminal operators in L.A. and L.B. from imposing a $5 chassis service fee for every chassis entering or leaving their respective terminals on September 1st.
Terminal operators claimed the land they lease is so valuable (for other purposes) they are entitled to collect a fee. Never mind many of the same terminals are owned by conglomerates that include the shipping lines being served by a terminal, and those same shipping lines ran away from providing chassis to avoid increased scrutiny of their chassis operation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
One is left to assume the terminal operators believe they can improve their through-put and efficiency by not having chassis available for truckers. The logic employed by terminals was such that if they didn’t get their fee, the chassis providers could store chassis elsewhere. That’d really help efficiency.
Finally, on August 23rd The West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA) issued a press-release announcing “it has shelved plans to introduce a chassis services fee.” The announcement did state the terminal operators believe they are providing a $200,000 per acre, per year subsidy to chassis providers by storing “their” chassis on the terminal. Again, just the specter of FMC involvement caused a reversal in an already announced new fee. Stay tuned.
Coast Guard Issues Final Rule Mandating Electronic Inspection of a TWIC
After years of delay the Coast Guard issued it final rule on August 23, 2016 that will require all vessels and facilities they regulate to have electronic card readers in-place no later than August 23, 2018.
In accordance with the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) and the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (SAFE Port Act), the Coast Guard is establishing rules requiring electronic readers for use at high-risk vessels and at facilities. These rules will ensure that prior to being granted unescorted access to a designated secure area, an individual will have his or her TWIC authenticated, the status of that credential validated against an up-to- date list maintained by the TSA, and the individual’s identity confirmed by comparing his or her biometric (i.e. fingerprint) with a biometric template stored on the credential. By promulgating these rules, the Coast Guard is complying with the statutory requirement in the SAFE Port Act, improving security at the highest risk maritime transportation-related vessels and facilities, and making full use of the electronic and biometric security features integrated into the TWIC and mandated by Congress in MTSA.
In other words, using a TWIC as only a “flash-card” is coming to an end. Those whose cards are expired and attempt to enter a facility with an expired card will be denied entry.