Brussels - In 2017, 543 ships, representing 80 percent of the world’s end-of-life tonnage, were broken under rudimentary conditions on the beaches of Alang in India, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Gadani in Pakistan. The Shipbreaking Platform, a non governmental organization, writes in its latest report that “millions of tons of hazardous wastes are exported to South Asian countries in the form of end-of-life ships each year. In most cases, the hazardous wastes built into the structure of the vessel are not even properly identified and therefore harm workers unknowingly”.
Shipbreaking has been declared the most dangerous job in the world by the International Labour Organisation. “ Ships are beached at high tide and workers access them at low tide, cutting the structures manually with blow torches. The safe use of heavy machinery to lift cut-off steel parts is not possible on the beaches”, reminds the report.
Most workers are exploited migrants, and in Bangladesh, even though child labour in hazardous industries is banned, many young teenagers are illegally employed at the yards.