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Transporters’ strike holds up operations at Alang ship recycling yard in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar

Activities at the Alang ship recycling yard in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, have come to halt for more than two weeks, with transporters working with ship breakers going on strike for the past 21 days over loading and transport charges.

Stacks of scrap have piled up at the ship-breaking units. Ramesh Mendpara, vice-president of Alang Ship Recycling Association, said, “We have been forced to shut all ship recycling-related activities over the past fortnight due to the transporters’ strike. There are no takers for scrap. Ship recycling units are unable to fulfil pending orders of steel and other material extracted from broken ships.”

In the wake of increasing fuel prices, transporters have demanded a hike in transport charges by at least 10%. They have also demanded that the loading charges of Rs 100 per tonne, which are borne by transporters, be waived.

More than 50% of scrap is purchased by nearly 100 re-rolling mills in Sihor town, around 65 km from the Alang yard. Traditionally, transport charges are borne by scrap purchasers. Hence, ship breakers have involved office-bearers of re-rolling mill associations to sort out the issues with transporters.

“Our association has assured transporters of accepting their demands. We have requested the Bhavnagar collector to intervene as thousands of MSMEs solely depend on the Alang ship recycling yard across Gujarat,” said Haresh Parmar, secretary of the Alang Ship Recycling Association.

The ship recycling industry in Gujarat has gone through many ups and downs following the outbreak of Covid-19. More than 150 recycling units remained closed during the first lockdown for almost three months last year. Even during the second wave, the industry was forced to shut operations due to shortage of oxygen, which is essential to cut heavy metals used to build vessels.

Besides, the industry is also witnessing shortage of labourers as a large number of migrant workers went back to their native places due to the pandemic. More than 15,000 workers are employed at Alang directly and more than 50,000 are getting indirect employment in post-ship recycling activities.

The transporters’ strike has come at a time when ship recycling activities at Alang are about to reach the pre-pandemic level. More than 70 ships have reached the yard from across the globe for dismantling.
Source: Financial Express

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