Another worker dies in Gadani

Lack of safety measures led to death of 20-year-old worker

Our Correspondent July 31, 2017
Trade union activists and workers of asbestos-using industries called on the government to institute a mechanism for an immediate ban on all form of asbestos in the country. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Another worker lost his life in an accident apparently due to lack of safety at a ship-breaking yard in Gadani on Friday.

Muhammad Shakir, 20, was killed as a heavy metal sheet fell on him during dismantling of a decommissioned vessel in plot No 69 in Gadani. The victim hailed from Rahim Yar Khan in southern Punjab and worked as a helper at the yard.

"The worker died on the spot," Bashir Mehmoodani, president of the Ship Breaking Workers Union Gadani, told The Express Tribune. "The incident occurred due to the lack of health and safety measurements and facilities."

This is the seventh death in Gadani since last year's November 1 oil tanker tragedy which jolted the authorities and drew their attention towards the precarious nature of work and no safety at the ship-breaking yard.

Gadani’s ship-breaking workers threaten to go on strike

On November 1, 2016, 26 workers were killed and dozens were wounded when a decommissioned oil tanker moored for dismantling caught fire during initial work. The fire blazed for at least four days as authorities with their apparently insufficient machinery tried to put it out.

Gadani's ship-breaking yard is arguably the second largest in the world and earns billions in revenue for the government besides catering to around 30% of the country's iron needs, Mehmoodani commented.

"Yet there is no mechanism or facilities to save workers from these sort of accidents that have now become normal in Gadani," he lamented, adding that the pledges made by the ship-breaking yard owners and the authorities to ensure safety have yet to materialise.

The union president lamented that the police booked the plot manager, foreman and a welder for their alleged negligence that led to the death of the worker, while relieving the yard owner and the contactor despite the fact that they were equally responsible for the death.

No rest for Sindh’s labourers

He added that neither the ship-breakers nor the government have fulfilled their duty to ensure the safety of workers in Gadani and due to this criminal negligence workers have decided to wage a protest movement starting this August and then will opt for strike if things did not take due course.

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