Residents of Bangladesh in search of work do not stop a dangerous occupation – analysis of end of life vehicles.
I immediately made it clear that to get to where the waste disposal of vessels, will not be easy. “In the past here we drove tourists – says one of the locals. – They showed how people bare hands apart the multi-ton structure. But now visitors here no progress. ”
I walked a couple of kilometers down the road, stretching along the Bay of Bengal to the north of the city of Chittagong in the place where the 12-kilometer stretch of coast there are 80 shipyards for ship breaking. Each is hidden behind a high wall, a leather-wrapped with barbed wire, security is everywhere, and hung signs prohibiting photography. Strangers here do not favor.
Recycling of ships in the developed countries is strictly regulated and very costly, so that the dirty work is done mainly Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
In the evening I hired a fishing boat and decided to make a sortie on one of the wharves. Due to tide we can easily scurried between the huge oil tankers and container ships, hiding in the shade of giant pipes and liners. Some ships were still intact, and the rest were like skeletons: deprived of steel plating, they drew the inside of the deep dark holds. Sea giants are on average 25-30 years, most of the delivered for recycling was launched in 1980. Now that the increased cost of insurance and maintenance of old ships made unprofitable, their value lies in the steel hulls.
We were here at the end of the day, when workers have to go home, and the court rested in silence, occasionally broken by the lapping of the water and the tinkle of metal, coming from their womb. The air smelled of sea water and oil. Making his way along one of the ships, we heard laughter and soon saw a group of boys. They floundered near waterlogged metal skeleton: it climbed and dived into the water. Nearby fishermen snare, hoping for a good catch of fish rice – a local delicacy.
Suddenly, very close to the height of several floors collapsed sparks. “This is impossible! – Shouted from the top working. – What, tired of living “?
Ocean-going vessels are designed for many years of service in extreme conditions. Nobody thinks that sooner or later they will have to disassemble the pieces, many of which contain toxic materials such as asbestos and lead. Recycling of ships in the developed countries is strictly regulated and very costly, so that the dirty work is done mainly Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The workforce here is very cheap, and whatever control was almost non-existent.
However, the situation is gradually improving in the industry, but this process is quite lengthy. For example, India finally introduced a new safety and environmental requirements of the working environment. However, in Bangladesh, where the vessel was dismantled as much as 194, this work in the past year is very dangerous.
At the same time it brings a lot of money. Activists say that in three or four months, invested about five million dollars in the dismantling of the ship at the shipyard in Bangladesh, it is possible to obtain an average of one million profit. With these figures do not agree Jafar Alam, former head of the association for the recycling of ships in Bangladesh: “Everything depends on the vessel class and many other factors, such as the current market price of steel.”
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Whatever profit, it can not arise out of nowhere: 90% of materials and equipment take on a second life.
The process begins with the purchase of the ship now-processor to the international broker that sells second-hand vessels. For delivery of the vessel to the space dismantling company hires a captain, specializing in “parking” a huge ship on a strip of beach a hundred meters wide. Once the ship gets stuck in the coastal sand poured out of it and sell all liquids: remains of diesel fuel, engine oil and fireproof material. Then he removed the mechanisms and inner snap. On sale are all, without exception, beginning with the huge engines, batteries and kilometers of copper wire, finishing beds, which slept crew, portholes, lifeboats and electronic devices from the bridge.
Then, exhausted body stuck to the workers who came to work in the poorest areas of the country. First, they dismember the ship using acetylene torches. Then the movers dragged fragments to shore: steel remelting and sell – it will be used in the construction of buildings.
“Good business, you say? But just think of chemicals, poisons our land! – Outraged Mohammed Ali Shahin, an activist of the organization NGO Shipbreaking Platform. – You have not seen the young widows whose husbands died under frustrate designs or suffocated in the hold. ” 11 years of his 37 Shahin trying to draw public attention to the hard labor in the shipyards employees. The entire industry, he says, is controlled by a few powerful families of Chittagong, which owns and adjacent business, in particular metal melting.
Shaheen is well aware that his country is in dire need of jobs. “I do not require a complete cessation of ship recycling, – he says. – We just need to create normal working conditions. ” Sahin is convinced that in this situation to blame not only unscrupulous countrymen. “Who in the West will allow to pollute the environment in the open, examining the court directly on the beach? Then why it is normal to get rid of obsolete ships here, paying a penny and constantly endangering the life and health of the people? “- He resents.
Going to the nearby barracks, I saw the workers for whom so hurt Shahin. Their bodies are covered with deep scars, which are then referred to as “the Chittagong tattoos.” Some men do not have enough fingers.
In one of the huts, I met a family in which four sons worked at the shipyard. The eldest, 40-year-old Mahabab once witnessed the death of a person: a fire broke out in the hold of the torch. “I did not even come to the shipyard for the money, fearing that I just will not let go – he said. – The hosts did not like to wash dirty linen in public. ”
Mahabab shows a picture on the shelf, “This is my brother Jahangir. He was engaged in metal cutting in the shipyard in Ziri Subedara, where he died in 2008. ” Together with other workers brother three days unsuccessfully trying to separate from the body of a large section of the vessel. Then came the rain, and the workers decided to take shelter under it. At this point, the construction broke down and pulled away.
The third brother, 22-year-old Alamgir, now there is no home. Working on the tanker, he fell into the hatch and flew 25 meters. Fortunately for him, at the bottom of the hold accumulated water, it softened the blow from falling. Alamgir’s partner on the rope came down and pulled him out of the hold. The next day, Alamgir resigned, he now carries tea shipyard managers in the office.
The younger brother of Amir works as an assistant worker and also cuts metal. It is a wiry 18-year-old man, on his smooth skin scars yet. I asked Amir, afraid it work, knowing what had happened to the brothers. “Yes,” – he said, smiling sheepishly. Suddenly, during our conversation roof trembled from the thunder. There was a sound like a thunderclap. I looked out into the street. “Oh, it broke a piece of metal from the vessel, – indifferently tossed Amir. – We hear this every day. ”
These guys claim that they already have 14 – that with that age are allowed to work on ship recycling. shipyards Landlords prefer young dismantlers – they are cheaper and are unaware of the risks they face. In addition, they can get into the most remote corners of the vessel.
Steel from ship hulls cut fragments, each of which weighs 500 kilograms. Using available materials as liners, porters dragged dragged these sections onto trucks. Pieces of steel remelting on the valve and use it in the construction of buildings.
Loaders days do not get out of the mud, which contains impurities of heavy metals and toxic paints: this mud spreads of vessels throughout the county during high tide.
Armed with torches workers are working in pairs, protecting each other. In fact, to completely disassemble the vessel they will need three to six months depending on its size.
A few days spent on it to cut through the vessel deck Leona I. And then suddenly a huge part of it is removed, “spitting out” pieces of steel to the side, where the shipyard bosses. This cargo ship was built in Croatia in Split 30 years ago – that is the average service life of large vessels.
Workers are heated by the fire of the seals taken from the pipe connections, not thinking about the fact that in such pads may contain asbestos.
About 300 people gathered for the funeral of Rana Babu Dunot village at the foot of the Himalayas. The wound was only 22 years, he worked on the dismantling of the ship and was killed by the explosion of accumulated gas. “We are burying a young guy – lamenting one of those who came to say goodbye. – When will it come to an end “?