So Pakistani shipbreakers accept hazardous warships
The once flourishing shipbreaking industry of Pakistan -- it contributed around us $17-25 million to the country's exchequer, four years ago -- is now on steady decline. Shipbreakers attribute this to the almost doubling of international freight rates in the past four years.
Besides, the country has begun importing cheaper scrap from Russia, reducing the shipbreaking industry's market. Imported steel-coils from Iran to the tune of 60,000-70,000 tonnes and the country's largest steel manufacturing unit, Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation, too have been the competitors to the industry. "Four years ago, as many as 200 ships were dismantled at Gadani shipbreaking yard in Balochistan province. Last year, only two ships arrived," says Mahmood Moulvi, director, Marine Pride Shipping and Trading Corporation Private Limited, a leading ship-breaking industry. "Moreover, in 2001-2002, the annual average production of the industry was about 300,000-400,000 light dead weight (ldw) of scrap. By 2005-2006, it was just 50,000 ldw," he says. Lack of work has depleted the industry's workforce -- from 25,000-30,000 workers four years ago to just 1,000-1,500, today.
The industry is now opting for even hazardous warships, making the workers more vulnerable. "In March 2006, the asbestos-laden British warship Sir Geriant was dismantled at Gadani, without any investigation of the amount of chemicals or asbestos on board," says Hammad Naqi Khan, director, Freshwater and Toxics Programme, Worldwide Fund For Nature-Pakistan.
-- Shahid Husain Karachi
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.