New deal brings boom time for Bangladesh ship-breakers
A controversial global treaty to clean up the ship recycling industry will mean a boom in business for the Bangladeshi magnates whose workers pull the often toxic vessels apart, experts say.world Updated: Jun 14, 2009 14:32 IST
A controversial global treaty to clean up the ship recycling industry will mean a boom in business for the Bangladeshi magnates whose workers pull the often toxic vessels apart, experts say.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) agreement on ship-breaking was signed last month by 65 countries, and business leaders say the deal finally legitimises their work and should herald major growth for the sector.
But trade unionists and environmentalists have criticised the treaty for failing to address the serious dangers faced by workers and the pollution that the industry causes.
About 25,000 men are employed on the Sitakundu coastline of south-east Bangladesh, exposed to dire conditions and the risk of poisoning from asbestos, mercury and other substances.
Ships are driven into the 10-kilometre (six-mile) stretch of beaches on high tides and then taken apart, with their steel recycled for uses such as construction.
"Around a dozen new companies are popping up here," Enam Ahmed, technical head of the Bangladesh Ship-breakers Association, told AFP from Sitakundu.
"Yards that have been dormant for years are bouncing back to life. There's a sense a boom time is coming with more ships heading our way. The new treaty recognises the way we work."