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December 06,2016

Gadani ship-breaking yard reopens after month halt

Farhan Sharif

KARACHI: Ship-breaking activities at Gadani, housing the world’s third biggest ship-breaking hub, resumed on Monday after a provincial court ordered reopening of the yard that was on halt following the November’s tragic incident that killed at least 26 workers.

Officials said the High Court of Balochistan ordered the resumption of activities at Gadani ship-breaking yard, setting aside an earlier order of the provincial government to cease ship-breaking following a fire accident on November 1.

Officials said the provincial court ordered the removal of section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, prohibiting assembly of more than four people in an area.

Ikhlaq Memon, acting chairman at Pakistan Ship Breakers Association said the association received the court order. “The fullfledge activities will resume in a couple of days.”

Last week, the association urged the federal and provincial governments to allow resumption of the ship-breaking activities. It also filed 22 appeals in the local court against the section 144.

Memon said the association is willing to fulfill its promises. “We have already started to work on safety system development, medical facility and construction of a hospital in the area.”

He said a committee, constituted to find the cause of the fire that broke out after a number of explosions on a scrapped oil ship, is preparing a report and its findings will help the industry and government adopt better safety/prevention measures.

A business leader said the resumption of activities at the yard will help in reviving businesses of the allied industries. “This will also prevent joblessness,” said Sheikh Khalid Tawab, senior vice president at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

Gadani ship-breaking yard, around 50 kilometres northwest of Karachi, consists of 132 ship breaking plots along the 10-kilometre long beachfront. The yard employs around 9,000 workers.

A businessman, told media early this month, the shutdown of the yard had stopped supply of 100,000 tonnes of steels and other scrap metals to various industries. The country’s ship-breaking industry pays around Rs12 billion in annual taxes to national exchequer, he said. Tawab said the FPCCI is willing to help government and ship-breakers improve the working environment. The resumption of the activities and developments in the area will improve investors’ confidence.


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