Safe recycling of ships stressed
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has insisted on Bangladesh to ratify the Hong Kong (HK) international convention to help ensure safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.
IMO Secretary General Koji Sekimizu, while visiting Bangladesh during June 24-28, made the call to the Bangladesh authority for sustainable development of ship recycling sector and to turn it into a green industry.
"Since Bangladesh is in a leading position in ship recycling sector, it needs to ensure safety of workers and also be environment friendly. Ratifying the Hong Kong international convention and following its guidelines will help Bangladesh to make the industry safe for both employees and environment," Mr Sekimizu was quoted as saying.
The IMO Secretary General also assured Bangladesh of providing necessary supports to develop ship recycling industry in line with the Hong Kong convention.
While visiting ship recycling yards in Sitakunda upazila in Chittagong district, Mr Sekimizu praised Bangladesh for large investment in this sector. But he emphasised the need for following safety measures and make the industry environment friendly for its sustainability.
The convention was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Hong Kong in May 2009. The convention is aimed at ensuring that ships, when recycled after reaching the end of their operational capability, do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment.
The convention intends to address all the issues in 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 will address concerns about working and environmental conditions in many of the world's ship recycling facilities.
A senior Shipping Ministry official told the FE Bangladesh so far ratified 27 conventions linked to maritime sector. "Bangladesh is also considering ratification of the Hong Kong convention for the sake of the country's growing ship recycling industry."
According to Muhammad Ali Shahin, Bangladesh coordinator of NGO Shipbreaking Platform, in 2012 some 15 workers died in Bangladesh's shipbreaking yards while 12 were killed in 2010.
In recent years, the increased number of deadly incidents in shipbreaking industry has created massive outcry both at home and abroad. In 2011, the government kept closed the shipbreaking yards for a few months following a series of deadly accidents there.
Every year some 70 per cent of total ships sold for breaking end up in South Asian coasts including Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The poorly trained shipbreaking workers are exposed to toxic fumes, risk of falling from ship, being crushed by a falling plate, and being burnt alive in fire incidents.
Bangladesh has prepared Ship-breaking and Ship Recycling Rules 2011 which is now waiting for enactment by the parliament. Industries Minister Dilip Barua a few months back expressed the hope that enactment of the law would help create a safe environment for the sector.
Source: the financial express. By Syful Islam. 29 June 2013.