(Written by Jasim Khan )
20 April 2012 - Chittagong-based ship-breakers imported 42 large-sized recyclable ships in February and March this year at a cost of US$ 45 million.
Industry sources said the ships will be able to supply about one million tonnes of MS rod — a major construction material — against the annual national demand for four million tonnes.
The government earlier suspended import of recyclable ships for about a year to reduce related accidental and environmental hazards. Later on, it introduced new rules for ship breaking, and formed a Ship Breaking Cell at the Ministry of Industries to implement the rules.
Both the industry people and ministry officials said they are now working together, with their limited workforce, to ensure cent per cent compliance with the new ship-breaking rules.
“We have denied import permissions to 12 companies for their inadequate preparations in terms of training of workers and available facilities for yard during the period of suspension of import, so that accidents could be avoided and environmental issues are were complied,” said Khorshed Alam, additional secretary of shipping ministry and the chief of the Cell.
He said as the manpower and capacity of the cell is poor, they hired engineers from Chittagong Dry Dock to inspect the imported ships and ship-breaking yards of the companies.
Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association President Hefazatur Rahman told the FE that suspension on importing ships had led to reduction of supplies of MS Rod in the market and thus created uncertainty in local real estate sector by pushing up the cost of this essential item.
He welcomed the ongoing monitoring of the Ship Breaking Cell, saying that it would help create awareness among the yard-owners and reduce the number of accidents as well as dumping of poisonous waste.
The government last year introduced “The Ship Breaking and Recycling Rules 2011″ and issued a circular in this regard on December 14, 2011.
Bangladesh established itself as a leading ship-breaking country in the international market within a short period of time. Over 50,000 people are directly involved in this industry and more than 100,000 people are indirectly dependent on operational activities in the sector.
The ship-breaking industry that has developed in Chittagong, is the main source of raw materials of some 500 private sector re-rolling mills and 50 steel mills to produce mild steel rods, bars, and angles at affordable prices.
The industry is currently supplying about 60 per cent of the raw materials for local steel production. On the other hand, the country’s growing demand for steel products has encouraged a good number of private sector entrepreneurs to invest in the steel sector that has been proved quite rewarding, in terms of profitability and new employment generation.
The industry is also contributing to the local ship-building sector through supplying used machineries and materials.
Besides, construction industry, oxygen plants, cable, ceramic, and furniture factories are benefited from recycling of ships.