- By Sagar Shere March 26, 2020
Till April 7th the Bangladesh industries ministry had recently banned the import of scrap ships and have asked around 100 foreigners on five ships, anchored at the deep sea of Sandeep channel of the Bay of Bengal, to be in quarantine for 14 days.
In a circular, the ministry also said it stopped issuing no-objection certificates to the owners of shipbreaking yards.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Additional Secretary AKM Shamsul Arefin of the ministry said they issued the circular in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
He said five ships from South Korea and China anchored at the deep sea of Bay of Bengal in the first week of this month. There were around 100 foreigners, including captains, cabin crew and other staff members, on board.
"Considering the prevailing situation, we asked the foreigners to be in quarantine for 14 days. During this period, the ships will not move towards the shore," he added.
At least 35,000 workers are employed by 70 ship breaking yards in Chattogram's Sitakunda Upazila, Shamsul said.
The ministry also asked Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association to take all necessary steps in light of the IEDCR guideline to stop the spread of coronavirus among the workers.
Dipankar Chowdhury, director of Bangladesh Shipbreaking Limited, said they would comply with the ministry's order.
"Taking measures for workers' safety is our routine work. The ministry has asked us to take a few more initiatives in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. There will be no shortage of iron rod in the country due to the ban as we have enough scrap ships in our stock for dismantling," he told this newspaper.
According to industries ministry statistics, the ministry issues 15 no-objection certificates to the owners of shipbreaking yards a month on average.
Mohammad Ali Shahin, the coordinator of Young Power for Social Action, a platform for workers' safety, termed the ban a timely move by the government.
He said it won't have a negative impact on the ship breaking industry, which supplies iron bars and billets, mostly to the construction sector.