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‘No respite in mishaps in Gadani ship-breaking yard due to apathy of govt’

Updated October 19, 2018

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People look at a ship on fire following an explosion in Gadani. ─ AP/File
People look at a ship on fire following an explosion in Gadani. ─ AP/File

KARACHI: Labour leaders said there was no respite in tragic mishaps in ship-breaking yards of Gadani due to continued apathy of the government and owners of the yards.

At a press conference organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) at the Karachi Press Club, they said continuous mishaps in ship-breaking sector showed that the sitting government and owners of ship-breaking yards were not serious in implementing and following the relevant laws.

They said from Nov 1, 2016 scores of major and small mishaps had been reported at the Gadani ship-breaking yard resulting in deaths of several workers and injuries to scores of others.

They said basic cause of those mishaps was negligence of the owners who neglected health and safety measures at workplaces and violated labour laws of the country.

They said the central and provincial governments had adopted “ostrich mentality” to those violations of the laws, while labour and environment ministries had failed as well to discharge their duties.

They said on Oct 14, 2018, a fire erupted in an oil tanker named Kiruti that was anchored for dismantling. However, due to lack of safety measures on the part of the owners and ignorance of administration fire broke out on the ship, resulting in burn injuries to seven workers and the condition of three of them was precarious. They said a few days ago another fire had broken out at plot number 6-7, but fortunately no worker was injured.

They said there were serious threats to life of workers due to eruption of fire on ships, blasting of boilers and emission of dangerous gases, but relevant labour laws and health and safety rules were not being followed.

“There is a nexus of owners of ship-breaking yards and labour contractors (jamadars), who have become billionaires by exploiting low-paid workers,” said a speaker.

They appreciated the Balochistan labour minister’s visit to the yard after a recent incident and getting information about the workers’ issues.

They said if owners of ship-breaking yards and government gave serious attention, Gadani could again be made the hub of international ship-breaking activities.

Later, ship-breaking workers staged a protest outside the KPC pressing for their demands to lift a ban on work and observance of occupational safety and health standards.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2018