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4 months ago

Agencies seal 23 restaurants after deadly fire

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) officials seal off restaurants in the Gausia Twin Peak Building on Saat Masjid Road in Dhaka on Monday. The raids follow the 29 February Bailey Road building blaze that claimed 46 lives. — FE Photo
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) officials seal off restaurants in the Gausia Twin Peak Building on Saat Masjid Road in Dhaka on Monday. The raids follow the 29 February Bailey Road building blaze that claimed 46 lives. — FE Photo

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Government agencies concerned have launched crackdown on non-compliant buildings and restaurants, following the tragic fire at Green Cozy Cottage on Bailey Road in Dhaka.

On Monday, the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) sealed off a multi-storied 'Keari Crescent Plaza' at Jigatola due to non-compliance with fire-safety regulations.

The 15-storey building housed eleven restaurants. During an inspection, it was found that one of the two staircases was blocked and used to store gas cylinders - similar to the key safety lapse leading to 46 deaths at Green Cozy Cottage on February 29.

Subsequently, people raised concerns about the safety standards of restaurants in commercial buildings in the capital. In response, law enforcement agencies conducted raids on Sunday across 50 buildings in Gulshan, Mirpur, and Uttara, resulting in 25 arrests.

Jahangir Alam, the DSCC executive magistrate who led the mobile court operation on Monday afternoon, said the access to the roof of Keari Crescent Plaza was restricted. These severe fire safety risks prompted the immediate closure of the building.

No restaurant owners or representatives were present during the operation.

Officials said that simultaneous raids were launched on Sunday by Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK), Dhaka South City Corporation and law enforcement agencies on restaurant buildings in various areas, including Dhanmondi and Wari.

RAJUK earlier conducted a raid on the Gausia Twin Peak building on Satmasjid Road at 11:00 am on Monday.

During the raid, a rooftop restaurant of the building 'Retro Life Kitchen' was demolished and 12 other restaurants were sealed off.

Executive Magistrate Tazina Sarwar told reporters that the Twin Peak building only had an F-1 approval - which permits office use only but no restaurants.

None of the restaurants had obtained the required permission from the authorities, she added.

Meanwhile, police raided 14 restaurants in Wari's Rankin Street on Monday and arrested 16 people for various irregularities.

Police found that none of the restaurants had a fire extinguishing system and some lacked emergency exit stairs. Most were operating in residential buildings.

In a separate development, architect and urban planner Iqbal Habib visited the fire-damaged Bailey Road building and described the Green Cozy Cottage fire as "a series of negligent homicides".

"It's clear that many commercial buildings in Dhaka have restaurants built on different floors, essentially becoming time bombs. It's as if everyone is waiting for them to explode," he said.

The architect said restaurants cannot be opened in any commercial or residential building whimsically. "These buildings lack the necessary features, such as specialised kitchens, required for restaurants."

"From building construction to operation, six government agencies are directly involved in various stages," he said. "These include RAJUK, city corporations, the Department of Environment and even the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Commerce."

These six entities should collaborate under a unified framework to prevent similar tragedies from occurring again, he added.

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