NGO Shipbreaking Platform: Death Toll Climbs at Chittagong Shipbreaking Yards

Two workers lost their lives at the Chittagong shipbreaking yards in the last two weeks, bringing the total death toll this year to six workers, NGO Shipbreaking Platform reports.

On May 6, 26-year-old Shahinoor fell from a height and died at Jamuna Shipbreaking yard while breaking the Hanjin Rome, the first vessel arrested after the collapse of one of the largest container ship companies last year – Korea’a Hanjin Shipping.

The Hanjin Rome was put up for auction by the High Court in Singapore to be sold to the highest bidder early this year. Unsurprisingly, the highest bids for buying ships for scrap come from cash buyers that sell to the South Asian beaching yards who can offer higher steel prices with minimal disposal and labour costs and safeguards, NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.

Deaths on the beaches have also been a direct consequence from bankruptcy cases in Germany, such as the sale of the King Justus to Alang and the Viktoria Wulff to Chittagong, the coalition said.

On May 9, winch operator Ishaq was smashed by the wire cable and died on the spot at KR Steel. This is the second fatal accident this year at the plot – another fatal accident happened in February at BBC Shipbreaking yard which is under the same ownership as KR Steel.

According to local sources, KR Steel was dismantling the vessels Sea Zenith and Kota Wisata when Ishaq was killed.

The former was owned by the Thai shipping group Sang Thai & Sinsimon. The latter was owned by Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), according to the coalition. PIL sent nine end-of-life vessels to the beaches of South Asia in the last four years. Six ended up in the worst yards on the shores of Chittagong, NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.

“Shipping companies globally are aware of the dangerous and polluting practices on the breaking beaches in South Asia,” said Ingvild Jenssen, Founding Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

“The higher profit that ship owners make by selling to cash buyers has a human cost and an environmental cost. That insolvency administrators appointed by the courts in Singapore and Germany have been allowed to trade unprofitable ships to the beaches of South Asia is shocking.”