"Breaking Ships in Chittagong" Bangladesh Things to Do Tip by sallyeo

Bangladesh Things to Do: 60 reviews and 57 photos

I went to see the ship breaking yards in Chittagong. Chittagong is on the delta and in the past has been a busy port, linking India to China.
The best way I can describe it is that it was like walking into the set of the film WaterWorld. Gargantuan rusting ships were beached in the shallower waters. Over 1000 men worked on the shores.
We drove along a straight road out to the yards. Shops and stalls sold just one item. One shop, near a tributary, sold just lifeboats. Tens of orange lifeboats hugged the banks. One shop just sold wash basins.
We entered the ship yards, and were greeted by a sea of faces.
Young boys walked past us, 20 to a sheet of steel, the steel hoisted to shoulder height as if they were 20 paul bearers at a funeral for the ship. All bare footed. All with no protection for their heads, their shoulders, their arms. And as they walked, they walked in unison, and they sang. Haunting melodic melodies in response to the leader of the pack who walked along side them.
Men pulled apart sheets of metal in front of our eyes. Using soldering instruments, sparks flew from the seared metal. No eye protection. no shoes.
The foreman told us proudly about how the ships are broken up, and where they come from, and how long it takes to break up a ship. About six months.
The workers maninly come from the hill tribes and earn more than they would at home. Fatalities are seldom but he would not be drawn on injuries.

We gazed up at the side of a ship. The ship had been sliced and we were looking at a cross section. Four men climbed a rope to the top. More stood on the top waiting for htem. No shoes. No hats. Nothing. Men wore fabric around their waists and pulled them up to form loose trousers to make the ascent. They stared hard at us, as we tried to abosorb the landscape of what we were looking at.

I still don't know if we should have been there. Our local hosts wanted to show us the yards. But I still don't know. I felt like an intruder, with no right or no need to be there.

Address: The Ship Breaking Yards in Chittagong
Directions: Absolutely do not go alone. Go with a local person.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 27, 2003
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