Finland – Recent criminal proceedings in which a driver was accused of neglecting to control the cargo security of a trailer which he had picked up from the port of Vuosaari, have been set aside by the Helsinki Appeal Court. When Customs conducted a safety inspection of the cargo, it was found that the cargo had not been secured properly. It was undisputed that the insufficient securing of the cargo could not be seen from outside, and that the driver had checked the trailer, but the trailer had been sealed with the transport company’s seal.
The court first considered whether the transport company’s commercial seal overruled the duty to carry out a cargo safety check. The expert witness testified before the Helsinki District Court that according to the Road Traffic Act, a ‘seal’ is only an official Customs seal (subject to the TIR Convention), and that the term does not include the commercial seals used by transport companies. However, the district court found that a ‘seal’ is not defined in the Road Traffic Act or its preparatory work, and the term thus includes commercial seals. It went on to determine whether checking the cargo could have caused unreasonable harm or delay. The driver stated that pursuant to the employer’s instructions, a cargo unit must never be opened alone; two people must always be present. The district court found that it was not proved that opening the trailer would not have caused unreasonable harm or delay to the transport assignment, and hence the driver had done his best. The criminal charges against the driver were rejected.
The proceedings before the Helsinki Appeal Court were limited to the first question – the definition of the seal. The appeal court found no reason to change the district court’s judgment. The appeal court judgment is final. It is quite common that a driver is assigned to pick up a transport unit which is already loaded, secured and, on many occasions, also sealed. Under these circumstances the driver has no means to carry out cargo safety checks from anywhere other than outside of the transport unit. Source: International Law Office & Hammarström Puhakka Partners, Attorneys (Finland)
A new regional trade route reaching from the Katanga Province in the Congo all the way to Walvis Bay as point of entry, is on the radar of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group following an agreement between Namibia and the DRC. Development of this major link started its first tentative steps recently when the Corridor Group opened an office in Lubumbashi, on the border of the DRC and Zambia.The Corridor Group said earlier this week it had launched an office in Lubumbashi, DRC, to create a strong business presence in the mineral-rich Katanga Province.
The Walvis Bay Corridor Group Lubumbashi office was officially opened by the Governor of the Katanga Province, Hon. Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, supported by the Namibian Ambassador, Mr Ringo Abed, Corridor Chairman Mr Bisey Uirab, and Corridor Group CEO, Mr Johny Smith.
The need for landlocked countries to gain access through an alternative trade route to and from sea was recognised, where neigbouring countries and beyond could benefit from access to the Port of Walvis Bay that offers importers and exporters reduced time and cost savings, high reliability, and cargo security. The Katanga Province offers a market of more than 2 million consumers and with the fast expanding mineral rich DRC there is also a need from the DRC Government for the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor to extend further towards other Provinces in the DRC. Walvis Bay is surely growing as an alternative trade route for Southern DRC in that various commodities are being moved via the Port of Walvis Bay such as copper, frozen products, machinery & equipment and consumables.
The office in Lubumbashi, DRC is now the third branch office of the WBCG beyond Namibia, with the other branch offices in Lusaka, Zambia since 2005 and Johannesburg, South Africa in operation since 2008. The Walvis Bay Corridor Group is currently hosting the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor Technical Committee, which is a Public Private Partnership between the government departments responsible for transport of the DRC, Namibia and Zambia to address the bottlenecks that impede the flow of traffic along this trade route using the Port of Walvis Bay. Source: Economist (Namibia)