20Nov2017Headlines:

Ship Breaking in Bangladesh

Well lets first try an understand what exactly is ship breaking. Ships are huge vessels made of metals and steel. When a ship gets old, it becomes absolutely impossible to repair and re use it. Sometimes due to accidents too the ships becomes of no use. Like all other objects the ships too have a life and they depreciate with every passing year. What do you do with a ship that is of no use and is nothing but a scrap. Well you will have to send it to the scrap yard and ensure that it is destroyed completely.

Till 1960 it was considered to be a much mechanized operation and was done in the countries like United States and other European countries. However, since 1980 it was release that profits can be maximized if these operations are outsourced to underdeveloped and developing countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

These countries are poor and lab-our is cheap. Well interestingly if the statistics are to be believed. Nothing less than seven hundred ships are rendered useless every year. There are about one lakh workers who work on ship breaking all over the world. The steel that comes out of these ships can be used for various purposes. About ninety five per cent of this steel is reusable. One of the most prominent countries where ship breaking is done on a large scale is Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh these activities are mostly carried on in Chittagong. These firms are not regulated by the government. The salaries paid are very low. The conditions in which people work are very bad and unimaginable. The ship breaking firms have been exploiting the people and also the environment for a long time now. This activity is now banned in most parts of the world. However, Bangladesh being a poor country this activity is still on and provides lively hood to a million people. Bangladesh is one of the top ship recycling nations in the world. About more than hundred ships are scrapped there a year. In the first six months of this year one hundred and forty three vessels have already been scrapped. The business has a whopping turnover of one and a half billion dollars a year. The first ship was scrapped in 1960 since then there has been no looking back for the steel houses in Bangladesh. Most of the laborers working here are between eighteen to twenty two years. It is also common to find child laborers working in these ship yards. They are not given the basic conditions that are needed to work in these places. They don’t even have clean water to drink. Accidents are very common here but no one actually cares. The ship yard owners have no policies to take care of these laborers  The yards don’t take necessary steps to ensure that the basic safety standards are met. They are making profit but a very little or perhaps nothing is being spent to improve the lives of the laborers  It is an industry that makes huge contributions to the economy of the country but the government shows no concerns to improve the situation of those poor people who are working in these yards.

The morality of the government of Bangladesh is undoubtedly questionable here. They must try to ensure a better life to the laborers working here. These yards also have a number of explosions happening. Lives are lost and people are left handicapped every year. Most of these explosions happen as people are not well trained and they don’t know how to detect flammable objects. The wages paid are as low as one to three dollars a day. About two thousand people have lost their lives in this activity in the last thirty years. This is an estimated figure the real statistics can be even worse. The number of people who have lost their limbs and hands are even more. They are not given any protective clothing, shoes or goggles to work.

The next on the list to be exploited is the environment. The discharge from these scrapping is thrown into the sea. The marine life is lost. Oil spilling is a very common activity that happens in the sea. You can see floating grease balls and metal rust in the water. The coastal line is almost destroyed. The PH level of the sea water here is very high. There has been a severe loss of marine life due to this. The loss is perhaps so bad that it cannot be reversed. However, there is still time that the government and the NGO’s try to ensure that the water is not contaminated at this rate and ensure that measures are in place to improve the situation of the people working in these yards.

Ship breaking as an activity is also done in Gujarat, India. The tidal waves in this part of the county are strongest as a result it plays a very vital role in ship breaking. Similarly China, Pakistan, Turkey are also actively involved in this activity. However, these countries have regulations in place and they do this is a more professional way. Child lab-our and exploitation of the environment are not as high as in Bangladesh.

I hope now you have understood all that you need to know about ship breaking in Bangladesh. We have tried to cover almost all the facts about ship breaking and how it is done in Bangladesh. Steel is a vital metal that will never go out of demand. However, we cannot deny that these are having a very adverse effect on our coastal lines. This is high time that the ship breaking activities are controlled more and more regulations are placed so that the environment can be protected and safeguarded. The government of Bangladesh must take it up more seriously. Even the shipping companies should look at the quality of safety that is followed by these ship breaking firms before they assign them the projects. These small steps can be very beneficial for the future of the ship-breaking industry.

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