Legislative Reform Progresses for Bangladesh's Ship Recycling Industry
The Bangladeshi ship recycling industry is one of the world’s most important, second only to neighboring India in terms of volume, with an annual gross tonnage capacity of more than 8.8 million.
Bangladesh is actively implementing eco-friendly improvements to its ship recycling industry. So far, the government has sought international partnerships, technical and financial support to help and make the country’s ship recycling facilities greener and more sustainable. This was noted with appreciation by IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim on a recent visit to Bangladesh.
To aid in the management of the industry, the government published a set of rules on December 12, 2011. Chapter VIII states that if a yard owner is found to be negligent, they will be fined and will have to pay compensation for the death or serious injury of workers.
Additionally, the government, the IMO and the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) have jointly implemented the first phase of the Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh – Phase I (SENSREC) project.
Followed by site visits to ship recycling yards, stakeholders highlighted the successful completion of the five work packages under the SENSREC project. Speaking at a Dhaka meeting in February this year, Her Excellency Ms. Sidsel Bleken, Ambassador of Norway to Bangladesh, highlighted the significant progress made. “The SENSREC Project has achieved significant progress in terms of developing health, safety and environmental standards and appropriate training programs that should stimulate a sustainable ship recycling business in Bangladesh. Now, it is important to apply these measures, particularly the workers’ training program,” she said.
Bangladesh has also proposed a draft law for complying with the Hong Kong Convention. In July 2017, the cabinet has given its final approval to "The Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act, 2017." The law has provisions for tougher punishments. The proposed draft of Act is expected to be passed by the Parliament this year.
Under the section 4 of the proposed Act, a separate zone will be established in Chittagong for the ship recycling industry, and owners would have to set up yards and conduct their activities within the zone. The industries will also have to abide by international laws and the Hong Kong Convention. A regulatory authority will monitor the industry, and if anyone imports, stocks or break ships without “No Objection Certificate” permission, they will be fined or imprisoned for a year or both.
In August 2017, a delegation from the IMO visited the PHP Ship-breaking and Recycling Yard at Sitakunda Upazila in Chittagong. There Kitack Lim voiced his satisfaction on the development of the sector and said that the ship recycling industry of Bangladesh has moved ahead remarkably over the last decade.
Organizations in Bangladesh continue to be enthusiastic about adopting eco-friendly ship recycling methods with the help of the IMO and other technical bodies with the aim of boosting worker welfare and reducing the risk of environment pollution. Their success will bring a new dimension to the industry.
Moklasur Rahman (Jubair) is a maritime law specialist in Bangladesh.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.