Streamline ship breaking industry | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 27, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 27, 2010

Editorial

Streamline ship breaking industry

The persistent call for legal framework must be heeded

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THE ship breaking sector is running in a free-for-all style with no legal framework in place to make the parties concerned accountable to any authority. Allegations are often heard of anomaly and corruption right from procurement of vessels from foreign buyers to getting hazardous ships cleared for entry into our territorial waters. One wonders how toxic vessels could get past the port into the yards when there is a ban on import of such vessels posing risks to environment and human and animal health. Questions keep surfacing as to why no pro-environment measures are in place at the ship breaking yards and why the condition of obtaining pre-shipment inspection certificate from a qualified foreign inspection company has been waived. Although environment officials are said to be examining ships, would it not have been more effective a safeguard against hazardous vessels if pre-shipment obligations were complied with by the exporters?
The ship breaking yards themselves have been under the scrutiny of the human and child rights organisations and the media for a long time for the appalling conditions in them. Because of absence of safety measures and of rudimentary handling equipment, there have been many incidents of explosion leading to death and maiming of workers. Many of the yards are not even registered with the proper authorities. This must be looked into.
It is beyond our comprehension that the ship breaking operators of the country continue to remain noncompliant of the Court directive that says that no ship should enter Bangladesh waters for scrapping without being pre-cleaned outside the territory of the country.
The urgency expressed by the Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) for the prime minister to enact laws to bring the ship breaking industry under a legal framework is not only timely, it is extremely vital for marine life, human health and overall environment. We hope the PM will take timely action to help survival of the industry within legal bindings since the yards feed the rerolling mills of the country and employ nearly 30,000 workers directly with many more dependent on them.

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