Shipbreaking is the process of dismantling an obsolete vessel’s structure for scrapping or disposal. Conducted on a pier, dry dock or dismantling yard, it involves a wide range of activities. From removing all the gear and equipment that are on the ships to cutting down and recycling the ship’s infrastructure. Shipbreaking is a challenging process, due to the structural complexity of the ships and the environmental, safety and health issues involved.
Until the 1960s, shipbreaking was considered a highly mechanized operation, concentrated in industrialized countries – mainly in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. From early 1980s to maximize profits ship owners sent their vessels to the scrap yards of India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam where pay, health and safety standards are minimal and workers are desperate for work.
Shipbreaking activities in Bangladesh is concentrated in Sitakund (Bhatiary to Barwalia), just north of Chittagong city on the Bay of Bengal. It is of paramount importance to the macro and micro economies of poverty stricken Bangladesh. Shipbreaking activities present both challenges and opportunities . It meets the increasing demand for raw materials such as steel but its dirty and dangerous work with much negative impacts on the local environment and the of poorly paid workers.