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QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri on Thursday imposed a ban on dismantling of oil tankers and LPG containers at the Gadani shipbreaking yard until a proper safety mechanism was put in place to save the lives of people working there.

Mr Zehri issued the order while presiding over a meeting held to review affairs of the Gadani shipbreaking yard and to take steps aimed at curbing fire incidents there.

During the meeting it was stressed that although shipbreaking was an important industry and a number of people were associated with it for earning their livelihood, safety arrangements made at the Gadani yard were inadequate, particularly the system meant to rescue workers in cases of emergency. Therefore, the association of shipbreakers and the departments concerned should take appropriate steps in this regard.

The chief minister said that breaking of oil tankers and LPG containers would stay banned until further orders, but the vessels containing oil and LPG already docked at Gadani would be allowed to be dismantled after their proper cleaning so that there was no chance of a blaze.

The meeting decided to form the Shipbreaking Regulatory Authority which would provide a one-window operation. Legislative work would be undertaken for the purpose within a month.

The meeting decided that until the setting up of the authority a committee comprising the Kalat commissioner, Lasbela deputy commissioner and representatives of the departments concerned and the shipbreakers association would inspect the ships docked at Gadani with a view to preventing any tragic incident.

The advocate general for Balochistan briefed the meeting on the rules and regulations for the shipbreaking industry.

The meeting decided that in case of fire and loss of lives, an FIR would be registered under the Explosives Act.

Mr Zehri said that protection of lives of the workers was the top priority of his government and this should also be the top priority of all industrialists and heads of all the departments concerned.

He said that stern action would be taken against anyone showing inefficiency, adding that in case of any incident the department issuing the NOC and the ship owner concerned would be held responsible.

The chief minister said that industrialists earned huge profits from this important industry and they must take steps for the welfare of the workers involved in the risky and difficult work and take all possible safety measures before allowing labourers to start working on the ships.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2017