Fatal accidents are a regular occurrence in shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh

In the past 10 days alone two workers were killed and 5 injured in two different accidents. Activists say lack of government regulation and negligence by employers are the major reasons

October 21, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
More than 200 workers are estimated to have died in the past 15 years (Photo: Stéphane M. Grueso/Wikimedia Commons)

The lack of government supervision and negligence by employers continues to cost lives in the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh. At least 23 workers have died this year. On October 12, two workers were killed when they inhaled poisonous gas emanating from contaminated water inside a tank at the Kumira ferry port of Shitakund, Chattogram.

Three workers were also injured in the incident. The deceased workers have been identified as 26-year-old Saiful of Naugaon and 21-year-old Masud Sitakunda. As per estimates given by the Socialist Party of Bangladesh, more than 200 workers have died in the last 15 years.

On October 14, Monday, two workers were critically wounded in another incident at the Sagorika shipbreaking yard when a cylinder exploded. Before that, on August 31, two workers died after they were trapped under a heavy metal cable. In that incident that took place at the Ziri Subedar ship breaking yard in Bara Awlia in Sitakunda, Chittagong, as many as 11 more workers were critically wounded.

Similarly, on July 31, three employees of Max Corporation were killed. They were asked to work on scrapping the ship, MT Atlas, but were not provided adequate safety equipment. As they began working, poisonous gases from the ship rendered them unconscious.

Kan Matsuzaki, the Director of IndustriALL Global Union, condemned the employers’ negligence, calling the accidents absolutely avoidable. He said that employers and the government should not abdicate their responsibility to ensure safe working conditions. “We reiterate our demand that Bangladesh should expedite the process of ratifying the Hong Kong Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships,” the director said.