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Shipbreaking review: Pakistan against its neighbors

According to statistics released by environmental advocate, non-governmental agency Shipbreaking Platform, South Asian yards now offer about $450 per light displacement tonnage, or LDT, while Chinese yards offer only $210 and Turkish yards slightly better at $280 per LDT. It is also showed that a large container ship weighs in at almost 25,000 LDTs. That translates into $11.25 million in India, but only $7 million in Turkey and $5.25 million in China.

Furthermore, Shipbreaking Platform releases a yearly survey on the industry. During 2017, the organization recorded, the industry internationally scrapped 835 ships, which totaled 20.7 million gross tons. That’s a substantial fall from 2016, when 27.4 million tons were scrapped. The number of scrapped ships has declined by greater than 30 percent from the boom days of 2012 to 2013. According to Mulinaris’s research, during 2017, saw the demolition of 170 bulk carriers, 180 general cargo ships, 140 containers, 140 tankers, 20 vehicle carriers, 14 passenger ships and 30-40 oil and gas related units, which include platforms and drill ships. The research also mentioned that most decline into the category of small and medium-sized ships, ranging from less than 500 gross tons to 25,000 gross tons. Another study which was compiled by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the agency has forecast the acceleration of global ship breaking, notably oil tankers and container ships, from now on, but particularly from 2020 until 2023. This reflects the scrapping of ships built during the later half of the 1990s, with a useful life of 26 or 27 years. It is also mentioned that India is the clear leader in number of ships recycled, although Bangladesh led the pack in terms of gross tonnage, perhaps a better gauge of revenue.


In the study, statistics also showed that Pakistan was third in terms of gross tonnage, although Turkey broke more ships. The EU, by contrast, accounted for about 0.3 percent of gross tonnage. More recently, the worldwide center of the shipbreaking and recycling industry is in South Asia, especially in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. These three states account for 70–80 percent of the global recycling market for ocean-going vessels, with China and Turkey covering most of the remaining market. Only about 5 percent of worldwide volume is scrapped outside these five states.


Different sources mentioned that the situations at the shipbreaking yards in Pakistan are dire. As in Bangladesh and India, the yards in Gadani operate directly on the beach without any impermeable and drained working areas to protect the sea and sand from pollution. It is important to mention here, Gadani shipbreaking yard is the world’s third largest ship breaking yard. The yard consists of 132 ship-breaking plots placed across a 10 km long beachfront at Gadani. In the 1980s, Gadani was the largest ship-breaking yard in the world, with greater than 30,000 direct employees. However, competition from newer facilities in Alang, India and Chittagong, Bangladesh resulted in an important reduction in output, with Gadani presently producing less than one fifth of the scrap it produced in the 1980s. The recent reduction in taxes on scrap metal has led to a modest resurgence of output at Gadani, which now employs almost 6,000 workers. Greater than 1 million tons of steel is salvaged per year, and much of it is sold locally. The industry experts also noted that as there is no infrastructure to deal with hazardous waste in Gadani, dangerous and polluting substances like asbestos, PCBs and residue oils are simply dumped behind the ship breaking area.

Furthermore, workers’ health and safety are blatantly ignored in Gadani, and trade unions, like the industrial-affiliated Pakistan National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), have voiced strong concerns related to the systemic breaches of basic labor rights. Most of the ship breaking workers in Gadani are migrant workers from the poorest regions of Pakistan. The experts also mentioned that the country needs to strengthen safety and environmental standards for its ship breaking industry on the face of new rules being compiled through the European Commission for Asian ship-breaking industry to ensure compliance with its criterion by 2019.

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