hip breaking in Bangladesh started back in 1960 when the Bay of Bengal was struck by a cyclone, which left a giant cargo ship beached near the sea shore of Fauzdarhat near Chittagong.
The ship owners abandoned the wreck, and local metal workers slowly began to scrounge it for scrap metal and material.
In 1974, a salvaged Pakistani navy vessel, which was sunk during the Bangladeshi liberation war, was scrapped by Karnafully Metal Works.
These two incidences are considered to be the beginning of the ship breaking industry in Bangladesh. The ship breaking industry gradually grew since then, and by the mid 80s Bangladesh had become one of the major ship breaking nations in the world.
Some of the world’s largest decommissioned ships are today scraped at the shores north of Chittagong, which is the second largest city and major sea port in the country.
Environmental policies and laws were not enforced, labour salaries were among the lowest in the world and there were no standards for occupational health and labour safety.
Obviously there were plenty of opportunities to exploit people and the environment when moving forward with the ship breaking business.
Ship breaking on the beach, which already at that time was prohibited in most countries, could be done in Bangladesh without any concern.
Poverty and millions of people without education were looking for livelihood opportunities.
They provided cheap and exploitable human man power needed for the ship breaking industry. No major investments were required for engaging in ship breaking.