23 January 2017

The development of the Hong Kong Convention

The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (the Hong Kong Convention), was adopted at a diplomatic conference held in Hong Kong, China, from 11 to 15 May 2009, which was attended by delegates from 63 countries.

The Convention is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment.

The Hong Kong Convention intends to address all the issues around ship recycling, including the fact that ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone-depleting substances and others. It also addresses concerns raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world's ship recycling locations.

The text of the Hong Kong Convention was developed over three and a half years, with input from IMO Member States and relevant non-governmental organizations, and in co-operation with the International Labour Organization and the Parties to the Basel Convention.

Regulations in the new Convention cover: the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships; the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements.

Upon entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, ships to be sent for recycling will be required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials, which will be specific to each ship. An appendix to the Convention provides a list of hazardous materials the installation or use of which is prohibited or restricted in shipyards, ship repair yards, and ships of Parties to the Convention. Ships will be required to have an initial survey to verify the inventory of hazardous materials, additional surveys during the life of the ship, and a final survey prior to recycling.

Ship recycling yards will be required to provide a "Ship Recycling Plan", specifying the manner in which each ship will be recycled, depending on its particulars and its inventory. Parties will be required to take effective measures to ensure that ship recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the Convention.

The following guidelines have been developed and adopted to assist States in the early implementation of the Convention’s technical standards:

2011 Guidelines for the Development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials, adopted by resolution MEPC.197(62);
2011 Guidelines for the Development of the Ship Recycling Plan, adopted by resolution MEPC.196(62);
2012 Guidelines for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling, adopted by resolution MEPC.210(63); and
- 2012 Guidelines for the Authorization of Ship Recycling Facilities, adopted by resolution MEPC.211(63).

Also two further guidelines have been developed and adopted to assist States in the implementation of the Convention after it enters into force:

2012 Guidelines for the survey and certification of ships under the Hong Kong Convention, adopted by resolution MEPC.222(64); and
- 2012 Guidelines for the inspection of ships under the Hong Kong Convention, adopted by resolution MEPC.223(64).

Entry into force criteria
The Convention is open for accession by any State. It will enter into force -
24 months after the date on which 15 States, representing 40 per cent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, have either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval or have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Secretary-General. Furthermore, the combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of those States must, during the preceding 10 years, constitute not less than 3 per cent of their combined merchant shipping tonnage.  For more detailed information please refer to resolution MEPC.178(59) on the calculation of the recycling capacity for meeting the entry-into-force conditions of the Hong Kong Convention and document MEPC 64/INF.2/Rev.1 on the same topic.

Historic background
IMO’s role in the recycling of ships, the terminology used to refer to ship scrapping, was first raised at the 44th MEPC session in March 2000 following which a correspondence group was established to research this issue and provide information about current ship recycling practices and suggestions on the role of IMO.

Guidelines were developed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and finalized at the MEPC 49th session in July 2003. These guidelines were adopted as the: Guidelines on Ship Recycling by the 23rd Assembly in November-December 2003 by resolution A.962(23) and were subsequently amended by resolution A.980(24).

Resolution A.962(23) IMO Guidelines on Ship Recycling give advice to all stakeholders in the recycling process, including administrations of ship building and maritime equipment supplying countries, flag, port and recycling States, as well as intergovernmental organizations and commercial bodies such as shipowners, ship builders, repairers and recycling yards.

The guidelines noted that, in the process of recycling ships, virtually nothing goes to waste. The materials and equipment are almost entirely reused. Steel is reprocessed to become, for instance, reinforcing rods for use in the construction industry or as corner castings and hinges for containers. Ships' generators are reused ashore. Batteries find their way into the local economy. Hydrocarbons on board become reclaimed oil products to be used as fuel in rolling mills or brick kilns. Light fittings find further use on land. Furthermore, new steel production from recycled steel requires only one third of the energy used for steel production from raw materials. Recycling thus makes a positive contribution to the global conservation of energy and resources and, in the process, employs a large, if predominantly unskilled, workforce. Properly handled, ship recycling is, without question, a "green" industry. However, the guidelines also recognized that, although the principle of ship recycling may be sound, the working practices and environmental standards in the yards often leave much to be desired. While ultimate responsibility for conditions in the yards has to lie with the countries in which they are situated, other stakeholders must be encouraged to contribute towards minimising potential problems in the yards.

The Guidelines on Ship Recycling also introduced the concept of a "Green Passport" for ships. It was envisaged that this document, containing an inventory of all materials used in the construction of a ship that are potentially hazardous to human health or the environment, would accompany the ship throughout its working life. Produced by the shipyard at the construction stage and passed to the purchaser of the vessel, the document would be in a format that would enable any subsequent changes in materials or equipment to be recorded. Successive owners of the ship would maintain the accuracy of the Green Passport and incorporate into it all relevant design and equipment changes, with the final owner delivering it, with the vessel, to the recycling yard.

Subsequently, at its 53rd session in July 2005, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) agreed that the IMO should develop, as a high priority, a new instrument on recycling of ships with a view to providing legally binding and globally applicable ship recycling regulations for international shipping and for recycling facilities. MEPC 53 also agreed that the new IMO instrument on ship recycling should include regulations for the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships; the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling (certification/reporting requirements). MEPC 53 further agreed that the above-mentioned instrument should be completed in time for its consideration and adoption in the biennium 2008-2009.

The IMO Assembly in November-December 2005 subsequently agreed that IMO should develop a new legally-binding instrument on ship recycling. Assembly resolution A.981(24) New legally-binding instrument on Ship Recycling requested the Marine Environment Protection Committee to develop a new instrument that would provide regulations for:

- the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to  facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships;
- the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and
the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements.

The resolution referred to the urgent need for IMO to contribute to the development of an effective solution to the issue of ship recycling, which will minimize, in the most effective, efficient and sustainable way, the environmental, occupational health and safety risks related to ship recycling, taking into account the particular characteristics of world maritime transport and the need for securing the smooth withdrawal of ships that have reached the end of their operating lives.

Source: international maritime organization.

22 January 2017

Victim families of Gadani shipyard blast compensated:

TIMERGARA: The Gadani Shipbreaking Corporation on Saturday distributed compensation cheques worth Rs108 million among nine victims of Gadani shipbreaking incident from Upper Dir, Lower Dir and Swat.

The incident occurred on November 1, 20016 in which of 29 labourers lost their lives. Nine labourers from Malakand division were among the dead.

A function was held at Khall in Lower Dir. District Council member Malik Muhammad Zeb made efforts to help the victim families get compensation.

Seth Abdul Ghani, Babu Karim Jan and Gul Badshah of the Gadani Shipbreaking Corporation, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Sahibzada Sanaullah, Malik Sher Bahadur, Badshah Muhammad, member Tehsil Council Khall, Malik Aftab Hayat and family members of the victims were present on the occasion.

The Gadani Shipbreaking Corporation representatives distributed cheques worth Rs20,00,000 among nine victim families belonging to Upper and Lower Dir.  The Gadani Shipbreaking Corporation provided Rs15,00,000 while the Balochistan government gave Rs5,00,000.

Speaking on the occasion, Gadani Shipbreaking Corporation representatives said advanced tools had been provided to the labourers working in shipyard but sometimes they didn’t follow safety measures, which resulted in the loss of human lives. Malik Muhammad Zeb Khan lauded the Balochistan government for compensating the victims and deplored the indifferent attitude of the federal government.

Source: the news. 22 January 2017

21 January 2017

Peterside says NIMASA positioned to increase Nigeria’s GDP:

Peterside told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that if the potentials of the sector were optimised, they would lead to the growth of the economy

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has said the agency was positioned to contribute substantially to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Peterside told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that if the potentials of the sector were optimised, they would lead to the growth of the economy.
He said: “We are looking at the entire gamut of mix that is necessary to unleash our potential in the industry

“All I can say is that going forward, maritime is positioned to contribute substantially to our GDP and by extension the growth of our economy.”

Peterside said that many countries had optimised advantages of their maritime sub-sector to grow their GDP and it had yielded results and urged Nigeria to replicate same.

He said: “If you look at the economy of the Philippians, seafarers contribute more than 11 per cent to their GDP.

“If you look at Bangladesh, it is called the graveyard of ships, in terms of ship breaking, ship recycling, that small sector in the maritime industry contributes substantially to their economy.

“Now if you look at India, again seafarers contribute substantially to the economy of India.

“If you look at Korea, ship building contributes to the economy of Korea.

“If you look at China, the officer cadre that boards vessel or that ply vessels or that mounts vessels everywhere in the world, most of them are Chinese.
“If you look at Singapore, by simply being a trans-shipment hub, it is the mainstay of the economy of Singapore.

“Singapore has a population of four million persons; they have got only one port that can receive 1,000 ships at a time, coming at a time; there is no port like that in Nigeria.

“So if you look at all these countries, they have optimised advantage of one sub-sector or the other in the maritime sector.

“Why can’t we replicate same in Nigeria?”

Peterside said Nigeria had population, agile and talented young men and women, adding: “We could export around the world and earn as much as they earn from Philippians.

“We have the advantage of location; if you notice, Nigeria is midway between Central Africa and the rest of West Africa.

“We are also a gateway to many land locked countries: Chad, Niger and other land locked countries, so we could also serve as a gateway to landlocked countries.

“We are exploring that to serve as a trans-shipment hub for the whole of West and Central Africa as well as land locked neighbours.

“So we are looking at building professional capacity in terms of personnel with human element in shipping; we are looking at serving as trans-shipment hub by reason of the advantage of location.”

Peterside said the government intends to look into the exportation and importation of vessels to ensure its optimal usage in the country.

Source: the eagle online.

ECSA Calls for Global Ship Recycling List

The European Commission recently published its first edition of the E.U. list of approved ship recycling facilities. At this stage, it only features yards situated in Europe and reaches under 30 percent of the E.U.’s own recycling capacity target. For the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), this demonstrates clearly that yards outside Europe should get E.U. recognition to raise standards worldwide and respond to demand.

The first edition of the European list of ship recycling facilities includes 18 European recycling yards that are deemed safe for workers and environmentally sound, in accordance with the relevant requirements of the 2013 E.U. Ship Recycling Regulation. The Commission received applications from yards in other countries as well but these applications are still being reviewed. Site inspections will be conducted to check their credentials followed by a decision in 2017 on their inclusion in the list.

“Whilst the E.U. list can serve to raise ship recycling standards worldwide and respond to recycling demand, the current list clearly shows the need to include third country yards and especially those that already meet the international standards laid down in the Hong Kong Convention for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling,” said Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General.

The IMO Hong Kong Convention has already a profound impact on the ground as recycling yards have taken action to comply with its measures, even when the Convention itself is not yet in force, he says. This is notably the case for a number of yards in Alang, India. Giving these yards E.U. recognition will encourage others to raise their standards and apply for inclusion as well.

It will furthermore ensure sufficient and adequate capacity on the E.U. list, not just in terms of volume, but also in terms of the size of ships that can be dismantled, says Verhoeven. In turn, this will facilitate a swift entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, creating a flag neutral level playing field in the global ship recycling market.

“Approximately 150 container vessels were sent for recycling in 2016, the current E.U. list would cater for only 16 smaller container vessels, taking into consideration limitation of E.U. yards in terms of length and vessel draft. And that is just for one type of vessels. We thus strongly encourage the Commission to enlarge the list to non-E.U. facilities as soon as possible,” said Verhoeven.

All vessels sailing under an E.U. flag will be required to use an approved ship recycling facility once the E.U. Ship Recycling Regulation effectively applies. This will either be six months after the date that the combined maximum annual ship recycling output of the ship recycling facilities included in the European list constitutes not less than 2.5 million light displacement tons (LDT) or on December 31, 2018, whichever date occurs first.

Source: maritime-executive. 15 January 2017

Still No Justice For Pakistani Shipyard Workers

On November 1 of last year, a horrific fire at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in the Pakistani province of Balochistan claimed the lives of at least 32 workers, leaving scores of others with life-altering injuries, including severe burns. In the more than two months since the accident, government officials have turned a blind eye to the long-suffering workers’ demands for justice and safe working conditions. Meanwhile, several more workers have been killed at Gadani in a series of accidents over the past few weeks.

fire at the Gadani shipbreaking yard

On January 8, a young worker fell to his death from a worn down cargo ship when the lock on his emergency lifeboat gave way. Just a day later, on January 9, five workers burned to death after an LPG container was engulfed in flames. Following this incident, the government imposed Section 144 and shut down the shipbreaking yard in a transparent attempt to save face. This has only added to the misery of the workers, many of whom are left without any source of income.

The increasing death toll has further incensed the Gadani laborers, long-fed up with the rapacious capitalists and corrupt politicians responsible for their plight.

Last month, representatives of the workers agreed to a deal under which families of the victims of the November 1 accident will receive Rs 2 million each, but as of January 17, no compensation has been received by any of the families. While a case has been registered against some officials of the Gadani shipbreaking yard, the workers know better than to trust the authorities.

After all, the government isn’t even sure exactly how many workers were killed on Nov 1; nor, in fact, does it care. A report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), based on interviews with witnesses, recently revealed that as many 80 workers may have lost their lives on that day. 20 percent of the workers at Gadani are foreign migrants from countries like Myanmar. The most dangerous tasks are reserved for these doubly oppressed workers. Most of them lack identification documents. It’s possible that some of these workers are still missing. The report by the HRCP also found that the accident was due to negligence and could have been prevented.

On January 16, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) presented the draft of a new shipbreaking code aimed at alleviating the plight of the Gadani workers. The draft includes the oft-repeated demands of the workers for the issuance of special identity cards which would enable them to acquire pensions and social security, in accordance with the law. The workers are also calling on local authorities to follow through on their pledge to enact new health and safety measures, including the provision of helmets, gloves, shoes and safety goggles.

Shipbreaking is a lucrative industry, in which the poverty-stricken countries of South Asia play a key role. The Gadani shipbreaking yard is located in southern part of Balochistan, by far Pakistan’s poorest and least developed province. The actual land is owned by the provincial government, which leases it out to the shipbreaking industry. The massive yard is a dangerous place to work, even according to Pakistani standards.

“Hazardous substances and wastes, as well as physical, mechanical, biological, ergonomic and psychological hazards” are only some of the dangers faced by workers, noted the International Law and Policy Institute in its May 2016 report, titled “Shipbreaking Practices in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.”

The industry is also responsible for polluting the environment, according to the ShipBreaking Platform, an NGO.

“The end-of-life vessels are run up on the tidal shores of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, where they are dismantled mainly manually by a migrant work force. The beaching method is at the source of severe coastal pollution and dangerous working conditions. Moreover, shipbreaking takes place in a blatant violation of international hazardous waste management laws. These laws set out strict requirements for the transboundary movement and remediation of toxics,” notes the NGO on its website. The vessels are dumped by corporations based in the core countries.

The Gadani workers are far from alone in their struggle. Workplace safety is a pertinent issue facing millions workers across Pakistan. Workers employed in the country’s critical textile industry are poisoned by toxic chemicals. Those working in the steel, iron and cement industries are forced to contend with various substances that take a toll on their minds and bodies. There are only a few hundred labour inspectors in the entire country.

The provincial government of Balochistan, like the federal government, is controlled by the Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League (N). The opposition parties have taken turns posturing as defenders of workers rights, but they aren’t fooling anybody.

The only allies the Gadani workers have are their fellow toilers across the country. The workers should rely on their own independent initiative to advance their interests. New organizations of struggle are needed and should be led by the most trusted and militant workers. By reaching out to other sections of workers and building solidarity, they can lay the foundation for a powerful social movement and score a victory for the laboring class.

Ali Mohsin is a freelance writer based in New York. He can be reached at alimohsin1917@gmail.com  

Source: counter currents. 18 January 2017