At least seven workers lost their lives while scrapping vessels on the beach of Chattogram in what is the worst quarter in terms of number of accidents in Bangladeshi shipbreaking history.
Few weeks ago, seven separate accidents that killed five workers were reported by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. Since then, two more fatalities occurred. On September 18, Liton Paul, 26 years old, fell from the ORO SINGA (IMO 9171838) during cutting operations at SN Corporation yard. On September 29, a falling iron plate took the life of Taslim, 36 years old, on the MEDAN (IMO 9002207) at a yard owned by Kabir Steel group.
The ORO SINGA was sold by Indonesian company Selebes Sarana for more than US$9m in Batam, Indonesia. Before reaching the shores of Sitakunda, the vessel was reflagged to Comoros and renamed SINGAPURA. It was said to have around 400 tons of sludge on board that needed to be removed prior recycling.
According to shipping databases, the cash buyer involved in the sale was GMS, one of the most well-known dealers of end-of-life ships. GMS, which is behind a significant share of the total tonnage beached in the Indian subcontinent every year, praises itself as a sustainable leader of the sector.
Yet, it keeps dealing with the worst shipbreaking destinations on the planet. Twelve accidents, causing nine deaths and twelve injuries, have been registered at SN Corporation since 2009. In 2021 alone, two workers died and five suffered severe burns at the yard.
GMS has also been linked by media and civil society to several toxic trade scandals, at least three of which are currently being criminally investigated by enforcement authorities in the UK and Iceland.
Image credit: NGO Shipbreaking Platform. Beached Oro Singa in Chattogram – September 2021.