4 years ago

Bangladesh top dumping ground for ships

File photo (Collected)
File photo (Collected)

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Bangladesh has again become the top dumping ground for ships with bringing highest 236 vessels in 2019, according to a global coalition.

It also marked as the worst year for local yards in terms of fatalities since 2010 as at least 24 workers lost their lives when breaking apart the global fleet.

A total of 674 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were sold to the scrap yards in 2019, according to data released by NGO Shipbreaking Platform (NSP) on February 04.

Of those, 236 were dismantled in Bangladesh last year causing irreversible damage to both human health and the environment, it said.

In 2018, Bangladesh dismantled some 185 ships out of total 744 end-of-life ships scrapped around the world.

NSP is a global coalition of organisations working to reverse the environmental harm and human rights abuses caused by current shipbreaking practices and to ensure the safe and environmentally-sound dismantling of end-of-life ships worldwide.

"Bangladesh remains the favoured dumping ground for end-of-life ships laden with toxics," said NSP executive director and founder Ingvild Jenssen.

There is wide-spread knowledge of irreparable damage caused by dirty and dangerous practices on tidal mudflats, yet profit is the only decisive factor for most ship owners when selling their vessels for breaking, she added.

The NSP report documented that at least 26 workers lost their lives when breaking apart the global fleet last year while accidents killed 24 workers on the beach of Chattogram.

It also mentioned that whilst the total death toll in Indian yards is unknown, local sources and media confirmed at least two deaths at shipbreaking yards that claimed to be operating safely, but failed to be included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities.

Of the 674 vessels, 469 large tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships were broken down on only three beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, amounting to nearly 90 per cent of the gross tonnage dismantled globally in 2019, the report said.

It revealed that last year, the shipbreaking industry handled 13,514,458 tonnes of metal around the world. About 7,849,569 tonnes were dismantled on the shore in Chattogram last year.

On the other hand, India imported a total of 200 scrapped ships weighing 3,665,963 tonnes last year. In 2018, some 253 ships were broken in India.

Turkey dismantled 107 ships, followed by Pakistan 35, European Union and China 29 each in 2019.

Local and global rights groups blamed employers' negligence coupled with poor inspections and inadequate safety training on safe shipbreaking methods for one after another accidents at the country's shipbreaking yards.

The rights group called upon the Bangladesh authorities to strictly implement the Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act, 2018 to prevent accidents.

They also said that the government of Bangladesh needs to move faster to ratify and implement the Hong Kong International Convention (HKIC) for safe and environmentally-sound recycling of ships.

When asked, Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association (BSBA) president Abu Taher said the number of accidents gradually declining in the industry as they were taking many measures to ensure safety.

Regarding HKIC, he said work is going on and Bangladesh will ratify it soon.

There are 160 yards in the country while 70-80 are in operation, he said, adding the shipbreaking industry employs more than 0.1 million workers.

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