The Financial Express Bangladesh – Tk 120 million project to improve environs at ship-breaking yards

Written by Pankaj Dastider

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9 November 2015 - The government has finally undertaken a Tk 120 million project to make all the yards of ship-breaking and recycling industry on Sitakunda seashore with non-permeable floor under a grant from NORAD and IMO.

Under the project, the Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation (NORAD) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) would extend financial and technical support to make the ship-breaking yards more durable, with treatment storage disposal facility (TSDF) in line with the TSDF system introduced in the shipyards of Turkey within next two to three years.

If implemented, it would help improve the environment at ship-breaking yards, make the yards safe for workers, improve waste reception facility, procurement of watercrafts for seaward pollution control and garbage cleaning crafts/barges and set up a hospital with total support system.

Leaders of Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association said a delegation comprising representatives from BSBA, senior government officials from the Ministry of Industries, Economic Relations Division (ERD), labour and manpower, environment department and explosive department recently visited Turkey to share experience with its ship recyclers.

The delegation members included BSBA president MA Taher, BSBA executive member and managing director PHP Ship Breaking Yard Zahirul Islam Rinku, joint secretaries of industries ministry Yasmeen Sultana and Ziaur Rahman Khan, Saleha Binte Siraj of ERD, ABM Sirajul Huq of labour and manpower, Moqbul Hossain of environment department and Tofazzal Hossain of explosives department.

They had an elaborate discussion on the implementation of the TSD facilities with the Turkey government officials at their Maritime Ministry, owners of ship breaking yards and director general of the coastal department, BSBA officials said.

Non-governmental organizations working at Bangladesh ship breaking yards allege that the yards on Sitakunda seacoast are polluting the villages and neighbouring areas as they don’t strictly adhere to the environmental laws and many workers have died due to non-use of safety equipment by the workers and absence of training.

The ship breakers said the ship-breaking industry is committed to support proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) through training and awareness programmes in course of time and a lot has improved now as yard owners have engaged themselves in a battle to fight out negative image of the industry with adequate support from the government.

Following those image building steps of BSBA’s new leadership, the ambassadors of different European countries have recently visited a good number of yards and have suggested improving the situation in the country’s thriving ship-breaking industry, said MA Taher, president of BSBA.

He told the FE today that European Parliament member Jean Lambard also visited the ship-breaking yards at Sitakunda, praised the industry as a very potential sector and invited the representatives of BSBA to visit the European Parliament in Brussels of Belgium.

BSBA executive member and secretary of the BSBA Foreign Affairs Committee Zahirul Islam Rinku went to Brussels and gave a clear picture on the compliance issues and safety measures taken in the sector over last few years.

Mr. ZI Rinku said BSBA has signed a contract with a foreign consulting firm – Creative Consultant – for providing training to the trainers and workers at the shipyards at Sitakunda with the financial support of the Royal Dutch Embassy.

The yard directors, yard managers, safety officers, management representatives, foremen, cutter men and others of at least 30 yards (member yards of BSBA) participated in the ongoing course.

He said ship-breaking and recycling industry is playing a vital role in meeting internal needs of iron goods, flourishing the shipbuilding industry, generating huge employments and helping the infrastructure development, booming of re-rolling mills, small cottage and other allied industries which have been significantly contributing to our national economy.