Ship-breaking activities at Gadani suspended

KARACHI: Work has been temporarily stalled at the Gadani ship-breaking yard once again for at least 15 days after five labourers were burnt to death by a fire that erupted in an LPG tanker on Monday.

Ship-breaking activities at Gadani suspended

Ship-breaking activities at Gadani suspended

A ban has been imposed by Lasbela deputy commissioner under Section 144 of the criminal procedure code temporarily stopping the work to prevent danger to human life, health or safety at the ship-breaking yard.

“Whereas the labourers of Gadani are still unsafe and insecure due to general carelessness of the ship-breakers in implementing the safety measures as chapter III, Health and Safety of Factories Act 1934, and relevant provision of BDA Ship-breaking Rules 1979 and their failure to provide sufficient health facilities to the labourers after the fire incident of Nov 1, 2016. Another incident of fire on January 9, 2017, took five precious lives of labourers at Gadani Ship-Breaking Yard. Therefore, with the prior approval of the Government of Balochistan, through Home and Tribal Affairs Department, the undersigned is pleased to imposed Section 144 of CrPC to halt the ship-breaking operations in Gadani for the period of 15 days from the date of this order,” stated the notification issued by the deputy commissioner’s office.

A similar ban had been imposed after the Nov 1 Gadani ship fire that had claimed the life of 27 people and left scores injured. However, the ship-breakers association later managed to resume work only for the registered ships which had received a no-objection certificate before Nov 1.

This Monday a fire broke out at ship-breaking yard number 60 where around 60 men had just begun working on an LPG container.

According to police, the cork underlayment installed for insulation of the gas tanks at the back of the ship caught fire at around 10am. Most of the workers were rescued but five got stuck inside the LPG tanker. Their charred bodies were later recovered and shifted to a hospital. According to union workers, the five bodies were burnt beyond recognition. All of them belonged to Swat, where their bodies were eventually sent on Tuesday, said deputy secretary general of the National Trade Union Federation Nasir Mansoor.

This is the second incident at ship-breaking yard number 60, which is owned by the former head of Ship-Breakers Association.

The yard owner, Diwan Rizwan, who had been arrested following the death of 26 workers on Nov 1, was released, according to the workers. They said he was present at the ship-breaking yard on Jan 9 when the LPG tanker fire broke out. The police took him into custody again, but the workers believed he would be released eventually.

In yet another incident, which was reported on Jan 8 at yard number 69, a young worker fell to death. Dilshaad, 24, was taking a break at the cargo ship, Snowdon, owned by Aamer Sattar, when the lock of the emergency lifeboat he was sitting in broke. The boat fell resulting in his death on the spot, according to union president Bashir Mehmoodani, who quoted eyewitnesses after meeting them at the site.

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