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Bangladesh to ratify Hong Kong convention for safe ship recycling this year

Bangladesh has decided to ratify the Hong Kong International Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships by the end of this year, government officials concerned have said.

It is aimed at improving the standards of ship recycling and boosting the industry, in light of increasing concerns about the safety and environmental impact of the industry, as well as withstanding global competition.

The development comes days after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, during a visit to the world’s third-largest economy by his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, expressed his hope that Dhaka would accede to the convention at its earliest opportunity.

Bangladesh’s premier stated her intention to expand efforts for an early accession to the convention in 2023.

In response, Kishida expressed his intention to consider supporting Dhaka’s efforts in the area of ship recycling, taking into account Bangladesh’s need for the development of a treatment, storage and disposal facility.

Speaking on the government move, Engineer Sheikh Faezul Amin, acting director general of the Bangladesh Ship Recycling Board, said if the convention is not ratified by this year, the chances of ratification in the future will be very slim.

The convention is an international treaty adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 2009 that sets out guidelines and standards for ship recycling activities, including the design, construction, operation and maintenance of ships, as well as the disposal of hazardous materials.

The convention requires that ships be dismantled in facilities that meet certain safety and environmental standards, and compliance is necessary to stay in business. To achieve compliance, yards involved in ship recycling around the world must convert to green yards. Achieving compliance will stop pollution from ship recycling as yards will recycle ships in an environmentally friendly manner, and the number of accidents and casualties will come down to almost zero.

Md Mominur Rashid, deputy secretary at the industries ministry, emphasised that the ship recycling industry has been a significant contributor to the country’s economy.

He said that if the yards in Bangladesh adopt proper procedures to become convention-compliant, developed countries will provide vessels for recycling, which will significantly increase the sector’s contribution to the economy.

“This, in turn, will improve Bangladesh’s image on the global stage,” Rashid said, adding that there is a huge opportunity for growth in the industry, given that there are approximately 45,000 vessels operating in the world, with only 600–700 being recycled each year.

He said Bangladesh’s cheap labour makes it a major destination for ship recycling.

Industry owners, however, said the ratification of the convention will require significant investment in infrastructure and the training of workers. The ship recycling industry in Bangladesh has an annual capacity of more than 10 million tonnes, with about 167 ship recycling yards.

Mohammed Shahin Alam, a yard owner, said the implementation of the convention requires developing facilities that meet the convention’s standards, which include the provision of appropriate equipment and facilities for the disposal of hazardous materials to implement safe and environmentally sound practices.

“Yard owners will need to establish such facilities, which will require an investment of Tk40-50 crore per existing yard. We urge the government to provide a low-interest loan to help convert to green yards,” Alam told TBS.

According to insiders in the ship recycling industry, it plays a significant role in the overall sustainable development of the country. Some 60-70% of the country’s overall iron demand comes from the ship recycling industry, with around 20,000 people directly employed and around 80,000 people indirectly dependent on the industry.

The industry has been contributing significantly to the country’s economy and has the potential to contribute even more if proper procedures are adopted. The income from this sector is more than $800 million annually and provides $100–120 million in revenue to the government.
Source: Business Standard

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