Industry Paper: Ship Breaking Industry in Bangladesh

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Date Submitted: 01/05/2012 07:52 PM

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Ship breaking is the process of dismantling an obsolete vessel’s structure for scrapping or disposal. Conducted at a pier or dry dock or dismantling ship, it includes a wide range of activities, from removing all gears and equipment to cutting down the ship’s infrastructure. Ship breaking is a challenging process, due to the structural complexity of ships and the many environmental, safety, and health issues involved (OSHA, 2001).

Ship breaking activities are being practiced in the coastal areas of Bangladesh and have gained importance in the macro and micro-economy of poverty stricken Bangladesh. Increasing demand of raw materials for re-rolling mills and other purposes and negative impacts on our coastal environments, ship breaking activities present both challenges and opportunities for coastal zone management in a holistic manner. These activities exemplify both the potentialities and the dangers of an increasingly globalised economy.

This activity began in 1969 and since then it has earned a good reputation for being profitable but at a great environmental cost. Various refuse and disposable materials are being discharged and spilled from scrapped ships and often get mixed with the beach soil and sea water which in turn has a negative impact on our coastal environment and biodiversity.

Moreover, accidents are normal phenomena in the ship breaking yards. Over the last 20 years more than 400 workers have been killed and 6,000 were seriously injured. Due to unconsciousness and lack of government patronization, the activities are facing several internal and external problems (YPSA, 2005). Considering all these facts, a distinct and well-balanced policy is necessary for sustainable ship breaking activities.

The factors behind migration of ship breaking activities to Bangladesh are of varying nature:

1. Low paid available labor force, as ship breaking is a labor intensive industry relying on unsophisticated...