Dhaka,  Sunday
14 April 2024

Regulatory Bodies Must Admit Failure To Ensure Public Safety

Editor, The Daily Messenger

Published: 08:10, 3 March 2024

Regulatory Bodies Must Admit Failure To Ensure Public Safety

Photo : Collected

The towering inferno tragedy at Bailey Road on Thursday should also be shouldered by the Department of Fire Services and Civil Defence, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK), Dhaka City Corporation, construction company and finally the ‘Golden Boys’.

None took the blame in the last 14 years (2009–2023) for fire incidents when 2,536 human lives perished.

Like previous tragic incidents, the regulatory authorities' role play is like a toothless tiger, which allows the offenders to enjoy impunity.
Serving notices to building management by the Fire Services without any punitive action is outrageous.

Equally, RAJUK stated that the approval for the construction of the building was for commercial office space and residential purposes only. The RAJUK authority dodged responsibility and said the building was not supposed to be rented for restaurants and eateries.
Can RAJUK describe what they meant by commercial space? Eateries, clothing outlets and electronic stores are included under the category of commercials, isn’t it?

Of course, the establishment of restaurants, eateries, clothing outlets, coffee shops and electronic stores is not illegal, as the owners have obtained the necessary permissions from regulatory bodies.

Setting up a commercial kitchen or restaurant in a building without proper permission from RAJUK, as well as from the Department of Fire Services and occupancy approval, is absolutely illegal.

After a proper inspection, the City Corporation issued trade licenses to establish commercial activities in the space. What did they inspect?
Most importantly, one cannot rule out corruption within the regulatory bodies and protection money collected by the ruling party ‘Golden Boys’.
The builder violated the building codes and instead of two stairwells, one for an emergency exit has not been built.

Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina deplored that the building did not have an emergency exit for the safe extraction of people in the building.
However, the Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting Act finds a building exceeding six stories must have fire exits, and two stairwells, while city corporation guidelines require a building above five storeys to have two stairwells.

Due to the loopholes in the building codes and lax monitoring by the regulatory agencies, the building owners enjoy impunity of non-compliance.
Somebody is responsible for overseeing the construction, and whether the building safety measures have been implemented according to the guidelines.
With the lax regulatory bodies' implementation of compliance, the city has been transformed into a death trap because of sheer negligence by the authorities who are responsible to ensure public safety.

Most of the victims in the towering inferno died due to suffocation or burns to the airways, except for a few external burn injuries.
Meanwhile, the social media are splashed with heartfelt praises for the unsung heroes—the firemen during crises—for saving scores of lives.