The Death Toll reaches to 19 This Year at the South Asian Ship breaking Yard

BY Tiya Chatterji 13.Nov.2019

The NGO Ship breaking Platform said in its quarterly update, the unsafe ship breaking yards on South Asian beaches have claimed the lives of 19 workers so far this year.

A total of 122 ships were broken in the third quarter of 2019. Out of these, 73 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking. Between July and September, eleven workers lost their lives and twenty were severely injured when breaking ships in Bangladesh and India. So far this year, the Platform has recorded 19 deaths and 30 severe injuries in South Asia.

The three South Asian ship breaking yards of Gadani, Chittagong in Bangladesh, and Alang in India account for about 80 per cent of the global ship-breaking trade – as well the lives of thousands of workers who have been killed or maimed by this most hazardous of occupations, which involves the demolition or dismantling of ships into parts and raw materials.

According to the Indian media, two workers died on the ship breaking beach of Alang in the last quarter. Two separate accidents took place at scrapping yards that have applied to be included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities and are promoted by the industry as “safe and green”.

“I’VE seen two workers get killed and three injured by a piece of iron on a ship,” says Muhammed, who has worked for 10 years at the world’s most dangerous shipyard, Gadani, in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. “The workers weren’t aware of the dangling iron, as they were resting after doing some hard work in the yard, and all of a sudden that piece smashed into them.”

Criminal investigations have been launched by the authorities in Europe following Platform alerts of imminent illegal exports of toxic end-of-life vessels. The case of the ferry SIR ROBERT BOND is, however, reminiscence of the Canadian government’s inaction. In the last two years, the ship was bought and sold multiple times: from the Canadian government to a peat moss producer in New Brunswick, to an agent in Quebec, who allegedly sold it for scrap to Indian breakers. In May, the Platform alerted competent authorities about the imminent illegal export of the vessel to South Asia from Canada. Despite authorities having been informed, the owner managed to illegally tow the unit to Alang, where it was beached a few weeks ago.