(Written by Crystal Chan)
11 March 2015 - A Bangladeshi ship recycler has reacted to non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs’) criticism of its beaching method.
Beaching, where ships are simply dismantled along the shores, is commonly practised in South Asia. NGOs have criticised the practise as polluting and unsafe for yard workers who are exposed to hazardous materials.
Mohammed Zahirul Islam, director of PHP Shipbreaking & Recycling Industries, was responding to a presentation by the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association director and head of environment, Tor Christian Sletner, at the Tradewinds Ship Recycling Forum in Singapore on 11 March.
In response to the negative publicity about beaching, Zahirul commented that many Norwegian ship owners are recycling ships in China, Denmark, and Turkey, bypassing yards in South Asia altogether.
He said, “Unfortunately, because of our friends from the NGO Platform and media, you see one, two yards with accidents. [But] India has 130 yards, Bangladesh has 70 or 80 yards, Pakistan has more than 50 yards.”
Zahirul’s comments drew applause from the delegates.
He continued, “You see one accident and you go, ‘Oh my God!’. You get so afraid that you go inside your room and you don’t want to face the media. Why don’t you select the yards responsibly? There’re many good yards in Bangladesh and Pakistan that are doing recycling in a positive way. Unfortunately, we don’t have the money to be in the media and advertise ourselves. And the NGO Platform is winning because of people like you, who are afraid to face the music. We’re not afraid.
“This is our livelihood and we know we’re doing it responsibly. Unless and until we move out of this ‘I’m so scared’ thing, nothing will improve. You’re putting everyone in the same basket, which is totally wrong. There’re many good yards. You need to visit them to open your eyes.”