Saturday, March 23, 2019 | ePaper

Chawkbazar tragedy stuns country

Unpardonable regulatory failures

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Trail of devastation after 9 years tragedy of Nimtoli; death tolls climb to 81; 46 bodies handed over to families; CID collecting DNA samples of unidentified bodies; Govt forms body to probe fire as blazing spread to 400-year old buildings from chemical w

Kazi Zahidul Hasan :
The government ministers have once again promised that the chemical factories and warehouses would be relocated from the city's old part at any cost considering safety of the people.
A similar promise was also given after the Nimtoli tragedy that claimed 124 lives. Surely, it was a harrowing tale, which did not touch the heart of the authorities concerned although the terrible incident shocked the nation.
Nine years after the tragedy, another deadly fire broke out at the city's Chawkbazar on Wednesday night leaving at least 81 people burned to death and thereby forcing the ministers to renew promise over immediate relocation of chemical companies from old part of the city.
Many have raised the question how such deadly incidents are taking place one after another when a number of government agencies are responsible to oversee and enforce the building and fire safety codes.
They also focused on failure of regulatory bodies for the recurrence of such deadly incidents.
"Many residential buildings have been converted into chemical godowns. But the relevant government agencies have failed to inspect and monitor the illegal establishment," Architect Mubasshar Hussein, a noted urban planner of the country, told The New Nation on Friday.
He said it was also evident in case of the Chawkbazar's "Waheed Mansion" building where the basic fire measures were totally missing. Even, it lacked regulations requiring use of chemical warehouse at its various floors. "It has once again exposed failure of regulatory bodies. Such a failure is 'unpardonable' and the relevant agencies should be made accountable for this."
Commenting on the promises made by government ministers, Architect Mubasshar Hussein said, "Nine years have already been elapsed since the Nimtoli tragedy. But the concerned agencies have miserably failed to move the chemical factories and warehouses from Nimtoli. The government should investigate into the matter why the shifting process has been stalled.
Now, several ministers came up with similar promises following the Chawkbazar tragedy. It does not make any sense unless such promises are translated into actions."
Architect Mubasshar Hussein also blamed rapid and unplanned urbanization for tragedies like Nimtoli and Chawkbazar. "This is another critical issue which the government

 should take into consideration immediately."
Terming the Chawkbazar tragedy an outcome of 'corrupt system,' Transparency International Bangladesh's (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, "People are becoming the victims of such deadly disasters time and again in the absence of poor enforcement of law and inspection by the regulatory bodies." 
He said, "Even no one wants to take responsibility, instead pointing the finger at others when an incident taken place."
When asked, Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, "The government remains unsuccessful to relocate chemical factories and warehouses from the old areas of the capital due to politics-business nexus."
He said there had a lot of discussion after Nimtoli tragedy to address fire and building safety and relocation of chemical factories and godowns to a safe zone. But the authorities lack practice steps causing unnecessary delay to the process. Now, the people are stunt by another deadly fire incident at Chawkbazar. If bold steps were being taken, the latest incident could be avoided.   

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