The demolition of tankers and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers at Pakistan's Gadani shipbreaking yards has been banned, local media said citing the Chief Minister of Balochistan, Sardar Sanaullah Khan Zehri.
Following two incidents which caused dozens of fatalities, the shipbreaking activities were stopped until proper safety arrangements are made.
The minister informed that these breaking activities would be banned until further orders, however, dismantling of tankers and LPG carriers which are already at the yards would continue after proper cleaning.
"The two recent catastrophes in the shipbreaking yards of Gadani, Pakistan – the explosion on November 1, killing at least 28 workers, and the fire on January 9, with another 5 victims – are direct consequences of the total absence of safety measures," said Patrizia Heidegger, NGO Shipbreaking Platform's Executive Director.
"We welcome the fact that the Government of Balochistan seems finally willing to crack down on these appalling conditions. It is shameful that ship owners, cash buyers and shipbreaking yards have been able to make a fortune while workers' lives are deliberately put at risk," added Heidegger.
Gadani yards were also closed in November after the series of explosions aboard the oil tanker Aces, reportedly caused by gas wielding processes undertaken during the dismantling work.
However, the Pakistan Ship Breakers Association called on federal and provincial bodies to restart the activities and, following an order by the High Court of Balochistan in December, the works at the site resumed.
"Is this another empty promise or a real turning point? It is time for the government to drastically modernize its shipbreaking industry and to shift it away from the beaches to modern, clean and safe ship recycling facilities that can offer decent jobs," Heidegger said.