About the Bangladesh bricks, factories and the people who work there
The rickety Bangladesh taxi was flying at a frantic pace on the ring road of Dhaka, when suddenly the view which appeared in front of me hit me like a ton of bricks. We had entered in a field which was full of about 20 to 30 chimneys, belching black smoke, and among them toxic lakes reflecting their silhouettes. The scene revealed to me seemed like taken from an apocalyptic Hollywood movie. Some of you would even call it surrealistic. However, the reality is very prosaic – these more than 4000 brick factories manufacture about 12 billion bricks per year and this is with no doubts a very serious business. One of the most polluting the environment of Bangladesh and also place where lots of children work for less than a dollar per day.
Bricks are the basic building material due to the abundant quantities of suitable clay close to the rivers and waterways. The way of their production has not been changed too much in the centuries. The blanks are made manually from clay paste, in special matrices and then, when ready, the bricks are baked in ovens, which are continuously belching toxic gases and dust resulting from the use of low-quality coals. The brick factories are usually situated in the regions around the towns and represent a very typical for Bangladesh picture.
Everything of course is made manually, and bricks and clay are carried in huge baskets on the heads or are dragged by specially made wheels. Men earn for their work on average about 120 to 150 Taka (1.70 to 2 USD) per day, and women about 1.2 USD per day. As I mentioned above, I saw on many places children who were working hardly and with their daily payment even in Bangladesh one cannot buy many things.
If the pollution of environment could be reduced using some technological improvements or for instance by buying of greenhouse gas emissions, as such process has been opened after the signature of two agreements with Danish government and World Bank, the use of child labour has a deep cultural and social nature, which turns the fight against this practice slow, very difficult and, I would say, almost impossible.
I, personally managed to visit a few brick factories and to talk to the workers. Despite the hard working conditions, people were smiling to me and were not complaining. This is their life and they accept it as it is.