From the heart of Old Dakha, the capital of Bangladesh, one needs to take small rafts to cross the Buriganga river and reach the other shore. On this broad river of pitch black, sewer water, people are ferried on thin canoes with a seemingly unstable balance.
There is a lot of human, animal and tool traffic. For a few cents, they move from the shore where the pink Ahsan Manzil Palace stands, once home to the “Nawab,” to an anonymous neighborhood on the other side of the river flowing into the Bay of Bengal. Full of textile factories of course, one of the great treasures of Bangladesh that every year generates 30 billion dollars in foreign currency for the country.
However, the factories, large or small, are far from the city center: they are in Savar, where the tragedy of Rana Plaza occurred, or in Ashulia, the industrial suburban districts.
Downtown, instead, there’s the heart of the production of another large primary Bangladeshi export: leather. Dozens of factories where leather is tanned: the first and most toxic process transforms the raw material in the base product which can then become a shoe or handbag.