Another tragedy has struck Gadani once again as five labourers burned to death when a fire erupted inside a ship on Monday morning. The incident comes just a day after the death of a young man working at one of the ship-breaking yards in Gadani. There were nearly 60 people working on the ship at the time when the ship went up in flames. As luck would have it, a colossal disaster was averted when the workers were rescued from the seaside in the life raft of the same ship lying handy. Multiple disasters later, it is shameful that the lives of the workers depend on ‘luck’ instead of tangible measures to ensure their well-being and safety.

Employing nearly 12,000 workers and contributing 12 billion rupees annually to Pakistan’s economy in taxes and savings on imports, the Gadani Shipyard continues to be a dangerous and poor working environment for labourers. Just because the people employed here are not of the same socioeconomic status of the those employed or at PIA, or that the Shipyard is not of immediate public importance as Pakistan railways, does not mean that the Pakistan Ship-Breaking Association, or the government with its negligent regulation, can be allowed to rest easy. This incident is the second time that there has been a fire in the same ship, only a couple of weeks later. Yet precautions were not taken to remove the inflammable cork insulation before cutting the metal, which caught fire and killed 5 innocent people, injuring others.

This time the incident occurred in yard no.60, which belongs to Deewan Rizwan Farooqui, chairman of the Pakistan Ship-Breaking Association. Many workers have claimed that 70 rupees are deducted from their monthly salaries in the name of a union fund, but they do not know where the money goes. It is not spent on their welfare and it is not spent on providing them with a safe working environment, so what is this money being spent on? While occupational hazards exist in such work, workers have to be compensated accordingly. Yet these workers are deprived of rights, of an acceptable standard of living and eventually their life as well.