Danger: The Ship Breakers of Bangladesh

InterestingShitPublished: June 28, 2017Updated: July 4, 201729 views
Published: June 28, 2017Updated: July 4, 2017

How much would you be willing to work for 3 dollars a day? No one in the western civilization in their right mind would take up a wage like that, but in poverty-stricken Bangladesh three bucks buys you a lot if you happen to own a ship breaking salvage yard.

The ship breaking industry in Chitagong, Bangladesh is thriving. Workers are putting in a backbreaking 12-16 hour day in perilous and unregulated working conditions. If you do the math, that is less than a quarter an hour, just to stay alive. Workers usually salvage the steel with bare hands and feet, most of them under the age of 18. The waste materials they handle are hazardous - asbestos, PCBs, lubricants and residual oil.

If any of it doesn’t explode from the sparks of a blow torch, it will surely be dumped into the surrounding water or the shore, and if the tide doesn’t drag the toxic sludge into the deep, the worker will stomp it into the ground.

So what makes an industry with over 25% of the workforce under the age of 18 and two kills a month thrive with to no government intervention. The simple relation of supply and demand. An estimated 80-90% of Bangladesh’s steel comes from ship salvaging, and that steel is then melted down and used in the construction of new buildings across the country.

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