21 January 2017

Pakistan Shipbreaking: NA committee seeks fresh briefing on Gadani fire

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Human Rights on Monday showed displeasure over the report of the Balochistan government on the Gadani ship-breaking yard incident and sought fresh briefing in the next meeting of the committee.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Babar Nawaz Khan and discussed the incident, besides reviewing measures taken to avoid such incidents in the future. The representatives from the departments concerned - except the Balochistan Labour and Manpower Department - could not attend the meeting. Moreover, those from Labour Department could not satisfy the committee members with their briefing.

The committee showed its displeasure over the briefing and directed them not to repeat the 'mistakes' next time. The committee initially recommended that their (Labour and Manpower Department officials') travelling and other expenses be cut from the salaries, but later on withdrew the recommendation on some members' request.

The committee directed all the departments, including the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, to attend the next meeting, in which the Gadani incident issue would again be taken up.

Briefing the committee on the incident, the Balochistan Labour Ministry's additional secretary and other representatives said that the shipping industry did not come in their domain.

They said that the department was only looking after safety measures related to the industry. They said that 28 people were killed in the incident. Ministry of Human Rights Secretary Rabiya Javeri Agha informed the committee that ship-breaking was not a regular industry.

MNA Essa Nori from Balochistan said that labourers' condition was miserable at the Gadani ship-breaking industry. He said that he had the bodies photographed, and more than 90 percent of them had been burned. He said that the labourers associated with the ship-breaking industry were also not registered with the Labour Department. He also demanded discussion on the issues related to population census in the panel.

He said that the government had announced the schedule for holding the population census and for the registration the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) was compulsory.

Source: daily times. 17 January 2017

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