Ship breaking in Bangladesh

Md Rezaul Karim By Md Rezaul Karim, 20th Jul 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3tvq7o2h/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

Ship building is relatively new phenomena in Bangladesh, but ship breaking is older and it started when rod making factories required cheap raw materials for their products. But there should be some law and guidelines.

Ship breaking law

With a view to making the ship dismantling industry environmentally friendly, regulatory guidelines –2011 was supposed to be declared on the 14th December 2011; as it is the deadline fixed by the high court. Ship dismantling is locally known as ship breaking industry. The guidelines have some contradictory sections, which are declined by the commerce ministry, as they feel it would go against the interests of the investors! Ships are normally scrapped ships that are non-operational and Bangladeshi companies buy them for dismantling or breaking.
The reason is mainly to get the raw materials or metals for re-rolling industry who make rods and angle bars to be used for house building industry. At present Bangladesh has a demand for 50,0000 tons of metal / steels, but we have no iron ore sources or mines, which make ship scrapping is the inevitable and important source of raw materials. Ship breaking industry is called the floating iron ore mine; and steel mills get 85% of its raw materials from here. In other words, we could also save 2500MW electricity power annually due to this metals, as cold rolls (Raw material for iron/steel making factory) also needs high powered electric burners.
Bad side is it pollutes the sea, oceanic ecology, fisheries as planktons are destroyed and poisonous substances pollute water, beaches and bio-diversity affected badly. Time has come to assess the cost benefit of the industry. Environmentally conscious groups always advocating against the industry, as it claims for a small benefits cost is high in the long term, since other alternative sources of raw materials are still available in the country. Meanwhile, the industry is not a small fry, big fishes are involved with it along with political stakeholders that are also notably mentioned. Anyway, if the tannery, transportation, brick fields, and dying industries are blamed for their polluting roles, why not ship breaking industry could be drag in the same line of fire!- Environmentalists opine.
Again to consider the national interest ship breaking industry cannot be stopped rather efforts are being made to make it environmentally friendly. Politically the issue is sensitive, as the industry is a high stake dealing, and no one dare saying anything against it openly, ministry also reckon that it wants no adverse relationship with them, rather logical and practical matters are focused in the coming rules and regulations, which also advises punitive measures against the violators.
Another issue is ship breaking accidents that happens every now and then while dismantling, due to mishandling of processes and not knowing if any flammable chemicals are stocked inside or the flaming materials or conditions that ill trained welding mechanics never know, as a result many explosions have killed so many workers in the history of ship breaking. This is so, as proprietors are looking for cheaper ways to accomplish the job, by the way, families, rather than public companies run the majority of firms. Again the victims of accidents in most of the time are not reported to police (or polices have illicit link ups with the industry- cynic comment!) for record, so actual number of victims would be never known, nor the right compensations are paid to the workers family. So, in the one hand environment or macro level negative impacts we are getting on the other hand, micro level or individual level workers are not getting any good return out of it nor their rights are protected by the industry owners. Should government avoid its role in it? Obviously not, that morality presses the government to oblige to the workers’ rights and environmental impacts.
The owners should insure workers life, as they are the instruments in the profit making process. Secondly, workers are not having regular or permanent jobs, they are all temporary workers, it should be changed, all the other Human Resource management issues should be applied in this sector too, like, provident funds, gratuity, medical facilities, good working environment for working, and other fair conditions.
The industry people comment that some quarters are being busy to discredit and degrade the sector due to some unknown reasons, the look out toward this industry needed to be changed in the first place. They virtually stand against the new coming regulation that they furiously remarked as the ship breakers are big investors – no one should deny their interests too. They got the government as playing a role of opposition party- like government vs. ship breakers- who are demanding for more relaxing regulations for them to abide by.
Actually the new regulation emphasizes on – workers professional security, risk management process, and above all the environmental safety. This is agreed by all that the industry is bright industry to contribute to the economy; it has many opportunities to grow. At present government is getting 1000,00,00,000 Taka (US$1=75 Taka) per annum from ship breaking sector, by moderating and upgrading the industry the revenue could be many fold higher, experts think. Ministry of industry rather be watchful lest government and ship breakers become foe rather than friends. Many good things could turn bad due to lack of foresightness, and many evil things could turn to be good if proper measures are taken timely- evidences needed?

Tags

International Maritime Law, Labor Law, Maritime Law, Ship Breaking, Ship Building

Meet the author

author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
I am a teacher engaged with the Southern University Bangladesh. I Like to use my spare time by writing and reading. I take it as a fun and source of inspiration in pursuing knowledge.

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Comments

author avatar M G Singh
20th Jul 2012 (#)

I hope the industry is regulated. Toxic carrying ships are also broken. Interesting post

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
21st Jul 2012 (#)

It has been tried to regulate properly, but there are vested interests in it, you know the business and politics matter, not that easy to catch in! Thank you Madan for your support.

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author avatar Judy Ellen
20th Jul 2012 (#)

I learn so much from your very interesting, informative and well written articles. I love them!!! Please excuse me if I don't get to them right away. I need to spend more time on my music to help with our income because my husband's job is getting too much for him. He talks about quitting all the time. I used to get paid to entertain residents at various nursing homes. I want to get back to doing that again but need to practice my music. So please don't feel that I do not appreciate your articles if I am late with my comments! Thank you so much for your comments and for following me!!!

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
21st Jul 2012 (#)

Nice to read your comments, I understand your and other friends limitations too. I am a music lover too, once I thought it should be my life and death, then after marriage everything is changed, due to many other reasons, I still have my old collection of musics - many of the 80s and 90s LPs and cds. Now music seems so mechanized and feeling less passionate! Thank you for sharing your views.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
20th Jul 2012 (#)

Yes Md...your pages are so informative and a pleasure to read...thank you...

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
21st Jul 2012 (#)

Thanks cnwriter, my pages are unlike yours though we make time to look at it, you are much more interesting to me with the difficult kind of topics and interestingly imaginative and inquisitive with human and should I say surreal matters! Thanks anyway.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
21st Jul 2012 (#)

Ship breaking industry was flourishing in India. In China too. But it is injurious to health of the poor workers. Profit motive should not lead us to a blind alley. With the right tools and farsightedness, this industry can benefit all. Good to know your courts are playing the umpire like in India! A good share, Karim - siva

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
21st Jul 2012 (#)

Yes Siva ji, I agree to those points you mentioned. Thank you for sharing.

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
21st Jul 2012 (#)

Thank you for this information, Rezaul. I had not heard about "ship breaking" before so another lesson learned.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
22nd Jul 2012 (#)

Oh really? Some people build some break! However, now a days new local companies started making small ships and already exported a few to the European countries. Not bad, but yet to say everything is fine! Thanks Ivyevelyn for reading.

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author avatar Denise O
25th Jul 2012 (#)

I am with Ivyevelyn on this one, I have never heard of the industry but, it makes a lot of sense. I do hope they get some 'good' regulations, as all businesses need them. A very informative read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
26th Jul 2012 (#)

Regulations? That's the issue we don't feel as appropriate and rightly practiced. This is mostly done manually and every year a number of workers killed with various kinds of accidental explosions while cutting the big metal sheets. Compensation? Fishy? There lies the corruption of the police who are more lenient toward the owners not the workers.

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