Several Norwegian ships were scrapped on beaches last year
Today, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is issuing its report on ships being scrapped.
– It’s a sad development, says manager Ingvild Jenssen.
Recently, shipowners who scrap ships on beaches have encountered opposition from different quarters. In January, Norway’s oil fund blacklisted four shipping companies for beaching. A week ago, KLP, Norway’s largest retirement fund, followed suit.
Today, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform publishes its annual report, which provides an overview of where ships were scrapped in 2017. The Alang beach in India, Gadani in Pakistan and Chittagong in Bangladesh are being emphazised as areas with poor working conditions.
The report points to 18 ships which they consider to have Norwegian ties, which supposedly have been scrapped in these areas.
– From 2009 to 2015, the figures went down, but after that we have seen a clear increase in Norwegian ships being scrapped in the coastal areas of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. – It’s a depressing development, says the head of the organization, Ingvild Jenssen, to Sysla.
Child labour in the coastal zone
Jenssen says that the ships are dismantled in the tidal zone, where 13 meters of tide goes in and out.
– This makes it difficult to have good infrastructure, for example with regard to cranes and access to ambulances. We know that there are many migrant workers who lack both training and protective gear, she says.
In Bangladesh, the organization has observed children who have worked in the beach areas.
– Bangladesh has laws prohibiting children under the age of 18 to work with this. Nevertheless, our members have seen children of 15 years old working there. We have also been in contact with inspectors who have observed child labourers. In 2016, a 16-year-old was in an occupational accident in Bangladesh, but the shipwharf owner denied that he was working at the yard. Because of this he did not get any compensation foloowing the accident, she says.
Ship from Bergen ended up on the beach
Sysla has attempted to come into contact with all of the shipowners listed as owning the 18 Norwegian ships. Several of the respondents say that the ships have been sold several years ago and that they do not know if the ships have been scrapped or not.
Operations Manager in the Bergen based shipping company Seatrans, Karl Johan Kleppe, announced that the ship “EM Leader” was sold on with the purpose of further operation. Sysla mentioned the sales in January of last year.
Three months later, the ship, which was then renamed “Leader 1”, was run ashore on the beach in Alang, India for scrapping, according to NGO Shipbreaking, .
Kleppe says they were not familiar with this and that the buyer indicated that they were going to use the ship in further operations.
– They appreciated the equipment on board and the large capacity of the electrical generators. We assumed that they would use it to produce electricity in the Arabian Gulf, he says.
That the ship was chopped up shortly after they sold it, he says comes as a surprise.
– We had no knowledge that it was to be chopped up. The buyer gave us no indication of that. We have sold the ship as a ship that was to be operated, he says.
Expect that they know what they are doing
Several shipping companies, state that they have sold ships for scrapping in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
The ship “Drive Bonavista” was chopped up in Chittagong, the world’s most notorious churchyard for ships.
The General Manager of Gaia Ship Management, Per Olav Karlsen, confirms this.
– We sold the ship more than a year ago to Wirana of Singapore, which is one of the biggest buyers of ships for the purpose of scrapping, he says.
Karlsen emphasizes that the ship contained no dangerous cargo. The ship was classified in Lloyds for delivery, and that all of this was considered in connection with the sale, Karlsen says. He says that they assume that the buyer adhere to international conventions.
– We expect the big buyers to know what they are doing. They are better informed to make these assessments than we are, says Karlsen.
He however admits that he is worried about working conditions.
– It is obvious that we are worried about working conditions on Bangladesh beaches, but these are not things you change overnight, it takes time. Many people rely on these workplaces. Virtually all parts of the ship are being recycled, among other things, parts are used for power generation in villages, he says.
According to the report of NGO Shipbreaking, the ship “Thorstream” was also chopped up in Alang, India.
The CEO of Thor Dahl Shipping, William L’Orange, responded by sms that “the ship was sold for environmentally friendly scrapping according to the Hong Kong Convention. He says he has no opportunity to talk to Sysla except for SMS exchange because he is traveling, and has not responded to which shipyard that was used.
– We contribute to change by demanding conditions – the requirements are described in the “Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships”. As stated above, there are strict requirements for working conditions, safety and supplementary written documentation before, during and after scrapping, he writes in the text message.
Considers the scrapping as being proper
As far as Sysla is aware, there is no scrap yard in Pakistan or Bangladesh that is certified according to the Hong Kong Convention. There are shipyards in Alang, India that are certified according to this, however.
One of them is Priya Blue, which the Bergen Company “Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Skipsrederi” used when they scrapped the combination ship “Sks Tugela” last summer.
– The scrapping occurred in accordance with the Hong Kong Convention. We consider it appropriate.This says Ole Johan Haahjem, who is responsible for the operation of the approximately 40 vessels in the shipping company.
Haahjem says he personally visited the wharf in connection with the scrapping of another ship a few years back. Another representative of the shipping company inspected the conditions at the area before “Skt Tugela” was chopped up on the beach last summer, he states.
- “Beaching” entails that the ships run up on shallow beaches at high tide and are chopped up there. Happens at present in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Hong Kong Convention is an international convention on safe and environmentally sound ship recycling, and was adopted by the UN Maritime Organization (IMO) at a diplomatic conference in Hong Kong in 2009.
- Norway ratified the Convention in 2013, as the first country in the world.
- The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association discourages members from recycling ships by wharfs that use “beaching” as a method.
© Sysla / Norway Today