Bangladesh Commits To Ratify Hong Kong Convention In June

Bangladesh has decided on ratifying the Hong Kong International Convention for safe and ecologically sound recycling of vessels by the end of 2023, government officials have mentioned.

It is aimed at improving the standards of vessel recycling and boosting the industry in light of concerns regarding the safety and environmental effects of the industry, as well as withstanding massive global competition.

The development comes days after Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida, during a visit to the world’s third-largest economy by Sheikh Hasina, Bangladeshi counterpart, expressed hope that Dhaka would be acceding to the convention at the earliest opportunity.

Ship Recycling
Ship Recycling. Representation Image.

Bangladesh’s premier revealed intentions to further efforts for early accession to the convention this year.

Kishida, in response, expressed intentions to consider supporting Dhaka’s efforts in ship recycling, taking into consideration Bangladesh’s demands for the development of a storage, treatment, and disposal facility.

Speaking on the government’s move, Engineer Sheikh Faezul Amin, Bangladesh Ship Recycling Board’s acting director general, said that if the convention is not ratified by 2023, the possibilities of ratification in the future are going to be slim.

The convention is an international treaty that was adopted by the International Maritime Organization back in 2009 that lays down guidelines as well as standards for ship recycling activities, including the design, operation, construction, and vessel maintenance, as well as disposal of hazardous material.

The convention demands that vessels be dismantled at facilities that satisfy certain environmental and safety standards, and compliance is mandatory to remain in business. To facilitate compliance, yards involved in ship recycling all over the world must look at converting to green yards. Achieving compliance is going to prevent pollution from vessel recycling as yards are going to recycle vessels in an ecologically friendly manner, and the number of casualties and accidents will come down to almost zero.

Md Mominur Rashid, the deputy secretary of the industries ministry, emphasized that the vessel recycling industry has been a major contributor to the nation’s economy.

He said that if the yards based in Bangladesh adopt proper processes to become convention-compliant, developed nations will offer vessels for recycling, which will, in turn, significantly boost the sector’s contribution to the economy.

This, in turn, is going to enhance Bangladesh’s image on the global platform, Rashid mentioned, adding that there is a huge opportunity for growth in the industry, given that approximately 45,000 vessels are operating in the whole world, with only 600–700 being recycled per year.

He said that the cheap labor of Bangladesh makes it a significant destination for vessel recycling.

Industry owners, however, said that the ratification of the convention will need significant investment in infrastructure and the training of workers. The vessel recycling industry in Bangladesh has an annual capacity of more than 10 million tons, with nearly 167 vessel recycling yards.

Mohammed Shahin Alam, a yard owner, said that the convention implementation needs developing facilities that satisfy the convention’s standards, which further includes the provision of appropriate equipment as well as facilities for the disposal of hazardous materials for implementing safe and environmentally sound practices.

Yard owners are going to establish similar facilities that will need an investment of Tk 40–50 crore per existing yard.

We urge the government to offer a low-interest loan to help facilitate conversions to green yards, Alam informed TBS.

Per insiders in the vessel recycling industry, it plays a vital role in the overall sustainable development of the nation. Approximately, 60-70% of the nation’s overall iron demands come from the vessel recycling industry, with about 20,000 individuals directly employed and around 80,000 people indirectly dependent on the industry.

The industry has been contributing heavily to the nation’s economy and can contribute even more if proper processes are adopted.

The income from this sector is over $800 million per year and offers $100–120 million in terms of revenue to the government.

References: Reuters, The Business Standard

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