Day labourers wake up at the crack of dawn and rush to work on the bank of the Buriganga River
How many photographs will you take? It will not change anything! Our bodies get soaked in sweat and you people come here for fun!
The day labourers, who carry heavy loads at the Gabtoli ghat of the city, were visibly annoyed while speaking with The Business Standard.
One can't blame them for being testy. They wake up at the crack of dawn and rush to work on the bank of the Buriganga River. As they arrive to work very early, they do not usually have time to eat breakfast. They carry whatever food they have to their workplace.
Female workers come to work a bit late after preparing food for their families. Many have their morning meals with flat breads, halwa or dal at eateries close to the ghat.
Then begins their day of backbreaking work. Loading and unloading sand, stone, brick and coal to and from the barges anchored at the ghat. They carry goods-laden baskets on their heads.
Their sardars (bosses) make contracts with the aratdars (wholesalers) for unloading the goods when barges carrying sand or stone from different parts of the country reach the ghat.
Both male and female workers carry baskets full of sand or stone each weighing 25-30 kilograms. They get tally coins to keep track of the load they carry.
They get their pay when they bring the tally coins to the sardars. Each tally coin has a price depending on the distances they carry. Usually, each tally is worth between Tk2.30 and Tk3.
On average, a labourer can collect 200-250 coins after working 10-11 hours and earns Tk600-700 by carrying around 7,000kg a day.
Many female workers bring their children to the workplace.
Rest times are rare when they can sit and talk. Some also talk on their phones.
The day's work stops at 5pm.
After sunset, the labourers bathe in the River. Some stay back to talk, some return home. Most of them live in nearby slums or cheap dormitories. Some of them also sleep on the boats that carry bricks.
When the night falls, the tired labourers go to bed. Some start a brief conversation over the phone with the near and dear ones and wait to fall asleep.
But the Balur ghat has another phase to start when a different group of labourers awake from their daytime sleep and prepare themselves to carry the stones and bricks to different parts of the city.
As the night grows, it is time for them to come to the ghat…