Worker Killed in Fall at Bangladeshi Shipbreaking Yard

Shipbreaking yard in Chittagong (file image)

Published Jul 24, 2019 6:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, a steel cutter named Shahidul lost his life while working at Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh, according to NGO Shipbreaking Platform. Local sources reported that Shahidul was cutting up the container ship Ever Union (IMO 9116618) when he fell from a considerable height, and he died at the scene. 

Kabir Steel’s shipbreaking yards are part of the large industrial conglomerate of Kabir Group of Industries. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has documented several severe and fatal accidents in 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 group said. 

The Ever Union, formerly owned by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine, was beached in Bangladesh on April 19. In January 2018, Norwegian Central Bank announced its decision to exclude Evergreen from its government pension fund due to the shipowner's practice of selling vessels for demolition at South Asian beaching yards. Five Evergreen vessels were delivered to Bangladeshi recyclers this year, including three allegedly sold to shipbreaking yards owned by Kabir Steel.

The sale of the Ever Union generated about $10 million in revenue for Evergreen. Before reaching the shore, the ship was renamed Vera and reflagged, as is common on demolition voyages.

The Ever Union's Equasis record shows that UAE-based Nabeel Shipmanagement took over the vessel's operations after she was sold for demolition. Nabeel performed the same service for the Eide Carrier (later renamed Tide Carrier, Harrier), a cargo vessel that nearly went aground off Norway after an alleged attempt to export her illegally for scrap. A Norwegian criminal investigation into the circumstances of Eide Carrier's end-of-life voyage is ongoing. 

Due to an array of economic factors, South Asian shipbreaking yards offer by far the best prices on the market for demolition tonnage, and they account for the overwhelming majority of the world's ship recycling activity. Pollution, injuries and fatalities are common at these yards, but shipping industry associations assert that they are working to improve and should be encouraged with a continued flow of business. 

According to one of NGO Shipbreaking Platform's member organizations, YPSA, another worker lost his life in Chittagong in the beginning of July. Md Mamun Hossen, 35 years old, is believed to have died at the Tahsin Steel Corporation yard.