AsiaStoryShip building; The Shipyard Workers of Dhaka by Nick Ng

Bangladesh has more than 100 ship building yards, with most of them serving the domestic market. Dhaka Shipyard by the river Buriganga, on the outskirt of Dhaka, is one of the leading shipyards in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has more than 100 ship building yards, with most of them serving the domestic market. Dhaka Shipyard by the river Buriganga, on the outskirt of Dhaka,  is one of the leading shipyards in Bangladesh.

Shipbuilding yards in Bangladesh are now exporting small and medium-sized ships for the highly competitive European market.The shipyard in Dhaka is the leading ship building yard in Bangladesh, and a major economic earner for Bangladesh.

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The shipyard industry gives the most job opportunities for the locals, with many of them lining up looking for work here, including sometimes young children, amidst the dangerous conditions found in the industry. It is a very high yielding business for the shipyard owners, and shortage of workers are unheard of.

This series on the shipyard workers are concentrated in one ship building yard at the Keraniganj area in the bank of Buriganga River. Starting work in the early hours of the morning, these workers work till nightfall, and sometimes with high demand, over the night.  A lot of the ship building or repairing work is done manually, and they have excellent building skills that have given the ships build in Dhaka a high quality and definitely in demand from the European market and elsewhere.

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Towering near the banks of Buriganga River on the outskirts of Dhaka, the crude shipyards are a frighteningly dangerous if, fascinating, hive of industrial activity. While it is not the largest shipyard in the country (that honor belongs to the Chittagong Ship Breaking Yard), the Dhaka yard in the town of Keraniganj shares the seeming disregard for worker safety that can be found in simialr industrial sites around the country. The facilities, which employ around 15,000 workers at around $5 a day, work to both break down massive shipping vessels as well as create new ships from the parts. Workers can be seen torches and welding equipment to tears huge pieces of metal from the vessels, sans eye, hand, or face protection. Other workers will be found scaling the tall ships on ramshackle ladders or strolling along the high edges of the ship decks, the only thing to keep them from falling is their own balance. Injuries are common on the site, but the buzz of activity doesn’t stop.

The ships being worked on are propped up on crude chalks creating the appearance that the river simply receded and left these hulks stranded on dry land. The space is tight so many of the boats are right up to small homes and other structures.

This is clearly a worksite that is dangerous to its employees, and even more so to careless visitors. However local guides can be found who will assist anyone curious about the industrial dangers that still plague the world. Oblivious to the sometimes dangerous conditions, these workers are all passionate about their work, and proud to be associated with one of Bangladesh’s major income earners. [Official Website]

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