One worker lost his life in an incident at a shipbreaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh, while scrapping a vessel owned by Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen Marine, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.
Local reports say that the man was cutting the containership Ever Union at Kabir Steel’s Khawja yard when he fell from a great height. Unfortunately, he died on the spot.
Kabir Steel’s shipbreaking yards are part of the large industrial conglomerate of Kabir Group of Industries. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform said it has documented several severe accidents at the company’s yards over the last years.
In 2017 and 2018 alone, at least four workers were killed. In 2016, Kabir Steel’s private security personnel fired shots and injured seven people who were protesting following the death of a shipbreaking worker.
The Post-Panamax boxship Ever Union was beached in Bangladesh in April this year. As informed by the NGO Shipbreaking platform, the Taiwanese owner of the vessel has been under the spotlight for its “irresponsible shipbreaking practices”. In January 2018, the Norwegian Central Bank announced its decision to exclude Evergreen from the Government Pension Fund Global, due to the shipowner’s poor management of its end-of-life ships and their sale for dangerous breaking on the infamous beach of Chattogram.
The NGO coalition added that since 2018 the company has not changed its policy. Five Evergreen vessels, including two Post-Panamaxes and three Handy containers, ended up in Bangladesh this year, data provided by VesselsValue’s shows. Three of them were allegedly sold to shipbreaking yards owned by Kabir Steel.
The Ever Union was sold for demolition for more than USD 10 million. Before reaching the shore, the ship was renamed Vera and changed registry to the Paris MoU black-listed flag of Palau, the NGO said.
Despite activities being slow due to the monsoon rains, incidents keep occurring. According to the platform’s member organization Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), another worker lost his life in Chattogram at the beginning of July.
In May this year, three workers died and several others were injured in an explosion at Mahinur Ship Breaking yard, known as Premium Trade Corporation. The incident once again reflected the overall dire working conditions at the Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards.
“Twenty workers lost their lives in 2018. The number of deaths was the highest in last eight years. These two recent accidents bring the total death-toll of the shipbreaking industry this year to at least ten workers,” Muhammed Ali Shahin, Project Coordinator at YPSA, commented.
“Clearly, no lesson has been learned. Accidents keep happening, indicating a complete lack of intention from yard owners to ensure workers’ safety,” he further said.
A total of 193 ships were broken in the second quarter of 2019. Of these, 146 vessels were sold to scrapping yards in South Asia, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s report shows.
More than half of the ships sold to South Asia in the second quarter changed their flag to the registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach.