Preventing fire incidents in RMG sector
In Bangladesh, incidents of fire become frequent during winter. But unlike other natural disasters like flood and cyclone, it can easily be thwarted by taking precautionary measures.
Victims of fire incident remain traumatised for many days and have to undergo a painful process to get recovered.
Victims also incur a considerable amount of financial losses and for the insolvent people, these make a heavy dent in savings and livelihoods.
It is an uphill task for the poor and the working class to bear the cost of treatment for burn injuries. Some medicaments are not manufactured locally. So these are very expensive and a lower-income family barely affords those medicines.
Nowadays, the raging inferno occurs mostly in densely populated areas and in hazardous industrial zones.
Since the beginning of 2017, five fire incidents have been reported in newspapers.
In the first incident, 30 houses were gutted at Karwan Bazar slum.
The second one took place at RK Jute Mills in Kaliganj of Gazipur, causing severe damage to a unit that housed machinery.
In the third, fire gutted down two units of a garments factory named Unity Fashions incident in Dewanhat area of Chittagong. Fire-fighters assumed that electrical short circuit might cause the fire.
In the fourth incident, exploding of a gas cylinder triggered a fire in Mirasarai of Chittagong that ravaged three shops, causing a total loss of Tk 1.0 million.
In the fifth case, fire hit underground electronics market in Gulistan.
Besides these, there are many such incidents which were not reported in media. On the other hand, follow-up reports describing the findings of the probe report or the real reasons behind the incidents do not get that much priority in the media.
There are incidents of willful negligence and mysterious fire incidents which cause great deal of damages to property. In 2016, a mysterious fire ruined the shop owners of DNCC Gulshan market. However, they are yet to recover their losses. And 26 of the victims are yet to get temporary possessions at the market.
In the case of the boiler explosion in Tampaco Foiled Limited, it has been found that the negligence of the concerned staff caused the catastrophe.
It was the last working day before Eid vacation and the workers were about to receive their dues and bonuses. The boiler was expired and was put into work beyond its usual working hours. Before the explosion, the boiler gave two warning signals but they fell into the deaf years of boiler operator.
Instead of telling the workers to vacate the factory premises, he kept insisting them to continue work.
The result was obvious, nearly 100 workers lost their lives and the factory building completely collapsed. Damage was severe because the factory was packed with highly inflammable chemical materials.
Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza debacle are examples that some owners treated workers as slaves. But not all entrepreneurs are irresponsible. Unfortunately, for a few uncaring owners, the business climate is getting polluted.
The owners of Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza viewed their workers as money-making agents and did care little about their safety and lives.
But in most of the country's factories, the owner-employee relationship is more like an extended family. The workers are ready to go extra mile to help their owners to overcome serious business trouble.
Unfortunately, a bad entrepreneur like Rana draws more attention at the world stage and ultimately causes severe damage to the image of the ready-made garment (RMG) industry.
Awareness campaign only can prevent an unanticipated disaster. But the authorities need to formulate policies to contain willful negligence and deliberate act of sabotage.
The writer is freelance contributor and researcher. He can be reached at - [email protected]