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Bangladesh claims it's in pole position following UN shipbreaking treaty

Dhaka:  Bangladesh will be the main beneficiary of the new United Nations ship recycling treaty signed late last week, as it would cement the country's position as the world's leading ship-breaker and create thousands of new jobs, the local Financial Express reported.
Officials said the country joined 62 other nations in signing the International Martime Organisation's landmark Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, designed to make ship-breaking hazard free.
"It's a big achievement for us. This treaty will regulate our ship breaking industry, make it more environment and labour friendly and will also spur its growth in the country," said Commodore Bazlur Rahman, director general of Department of Shipping.
Rahman said the convention would help transfer technical know-how to Bangladeshi ship-breakers who often rely on traditional technology to dismantle some of the world's largest ships.
He said the agreement calls for ship recycling workers to wear protective gear and for recycling centres to properly dispose of hazardous waste and prepare emergency response plans.
Captain Enam Ahmed who represented Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association in the IMO convention last week said the treaty would guarantee Bangladesh's growth as the world's leading ship-breaker.
"It's a landmark convention as far as benefits of the Bangladesh ship-breakers are concerned. It makes the retirement of all single hull oil tankers and cargo ships by 2010 a must," he said.
"As a result, globally more than 1,000 ships would be retired every year from 2010. It will bring down cost of scrap ships to a great extent. Our ship-breakers can be able to purchase more ships and keep the prices of rods down in the domestic market," he said.
Bangladesh has more than 30 ship breaking yards along the five kilometers coastline at Sitakundu in Chittagong. Every year they dismantle some 120 big ships, making up some 45 per cent of the large ships sent into retirement.
Enam said at least 50,000 new jobs would be created as a direct fallout of the treaty, helping the country fight off global recession and boosting growth of the related re-rolling and construction industry.
Zafar Alam, president of Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association, said the treaty would protect the scrap industry from 'unwanted' interference from a slew of local and international charities.
"Very often, they do reports on our ship-breaking industry, which is devoid of any truth. The treaty will help explain some of the practices in the yards. It recognises ship-breaking as a legitimate industry," he said.
Alam said as part of implementing the treaty, the association would build a 100-bed hospitals for the workers and their families and a school for their kids. [20/05/09]

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