• Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

ED: A failure to comply

  • Published at 09:09 am July 12th, 2021
Narayanganj fire
Rescue team bringing out bodies from the burnt building of Shezan juice factory in Bhulta, Narayanganj on July 8, 2021 Mehedi Hasan/ Dhaka Tribune

This is also a failure on the part of the authorities concerned

It is shocking to learn that, despite the numerous recent incidents of fires -- including the most recent in a food processing factory building of Hashem Food Ltd, a concern of Sajeeb Group that killed at least 52 people on July 8 -- most factories catering to the domestic market are reluctant to comply with safety regulations.

The Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 rightfully brought stricter safety regulations into the industrial sector of Bangladesh, in particular the RMG sector where fires and other safety-related disasters were commonplace, and have now seen a significant reduction due to pressure from foreign buyers and coordination among factory owners.

Yet, as is now being discovered, these safety regulations have been limited to only those that are export oriented such as the RMG sector, whereas for the rest of the factories, it is business as usual, with structures not established in accordance with the safety codes, a lack of sufficient stairs to get to the emergency exit, among others.

It begs the question: How many more disasters and how many more lives must be lost before all factories in the country are safe for workers to work in?

The onus here falls on the callous owners of these factories who cut corners and refuse to provide a safe working environment to their workers, the same workers whose toil and hard work in these dangerous conditions enable the industry to flourish in the first place.

This is also a failure on the part of the authorities concerned who continue to let these unscrupulous owners off the hook, and it circles back to the culture of impunity in Bangladesh, where the rich and privileged get away with literal murder as the lives of the working class are reduced to mere statistics.

If Bangladesh is serious about taking the next step in its economic development, then it is not just GDP growth that will define it, but whether it was successful in bettering the lives of its working class. It is unfortunate that as things currently stand, we have some ways to go in that regard.

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