Who are to blame for the Savar factory ‘killings’?

The municipal mayor of Savar has been suspended over charges of abuse of power, inefficiency and negligence in approving the design and lay-out plans of the building that housed markets, bank showroom, and five garment factories with thousand machines and heavy generators. Further measures would be taken against him if the allegations are proved.

The owner of the building and the owners of the garments have been arrested in the cases filed against them for negligence and violating rules.

Probe bodies and taskforce have been formed to prepare in-depth status reports following which some special measures would be implemented.

Roles of the designers and the architects of the building should also be investigated.

The local land office must be made accountable to explain how the building could be constructed on a disputed land, a petition on which is pending in court.

The parliament member of Savar should apologize for siding with Rana over political and business benefits.

The Rajuk officials concerned have to explain their failure to not monitoring the areas adjacent to Dhaka and taking temporary but effective measures to ensure that the rules are followed, especially by the commercial and industrial units.

The fire department should be blamed for not being able to convince the govt over procuring huge equipment to speed up rescue work.

However, did the labour, public works, commerce and industries ministries carry out the responsibilities they are entrusted to?

The Department of Environment was supposed to visit the site before issuing environment clearance for the building and also the commercial establishments housed in it.

The banks which extended loans to the five factories did not examine the sites and neglected the working condition.

The BGMEA showed serious indifference to the workers’ safety by allowing the owners continue such a risky business.

The foreign buyers should also be blamed for offering low price for the garments they buy, which the owners reason for not being able to ensure better working environment and facilities for the workers.

The experts in criminal activities might be able to reveal more stakeholders and loopholes in the building [and the factories].

But as a mere citizen of the country, I see no good news in the recent future in this sector, especially after the deaths in Tazreen factory. The scenario has worsened over time, but now, when the workers, rights groups and international watchdogs have been upbeat on the issue alongside the government, the owners must face the music. And I support the punitive action against such careless money-mongering demons.

Actually, I’d be the happiest had our government prioritised the workers’ first than the investors [owners of land, workplaces and households] for at least three years – a challenging scheme. The number of deaths from a possible massive earthquake or collapse of several faulty buildings at a time can only be cut by ensuring proper implementation of such a drastic initiative.

I can imagine a dramatic change! The only disadvantage of such stance is that the unscrupulous businessmen who think of profits only and deny contribution and benefits of their workers would express their discontent, and for a particular period of time, the government might face some manmade obstacles and noncooperation. But besides money, the owners, if not are born-demons, should care their co-workers and the establishments too.

Such moral depreciation is widespread and it must be contained.

No government since the early ‘80s has ever taken a historic step to change the scenario. Notably, there has been no separate authority for the sector that dominates exports by around 80% and contributes significantly in money flow. Nearly eight million people, mostly poor women and teenagers, work hard at the factories while get low wages in relation to the current prices of essentials. But they are like number of ants to the few demons, the inhuman beings of our time.

Preparedness on disasters, which is campaigned and trained by the government agencies and ensured by the authorities of the business entities, is absent or inadequate in most cases because of constraints. The people remain vulnerable. We actually come to know about the “authorities concerned” after the accidents [killings, say many people because of their sheer negligence towards the poor workers]. We also see some cases filed, probe bodies formed and arrest of some culprits [mostly junior officials] amid protests.

But still there’s no example of an owner of a faulty building or an establishment being punished for their brutal negligence. May be this is for the first time, the owners of a building and the factories have been arrested.

But since we’re pessimistic in this regard, it’s still certain that they would escape. Meanwhile, besides thorough inspection on the issue as a case study [though Tazrin Fashions fire, Smart Garments fire, Phoenix Garments in Begunbari collapse, Nimtali chemical area fire, Spectrum Garments collapse gave us hundreds of bodies and revealed the flaws in the system], the government must start taking stern action against the owners and supervisors of the establishments running in “risky” conditions disregarding who work or reside on those. Some of the culprits might be given time to reconstruct the buildings but the most risky buildings should not be spared. They must be penalized as per law. The matter of compensation should be improved sincerely.

Frustration drives us low when the government head is aware that 90% of the country’s buildings were built without following proper rules. Where to go!!! Natural disasters can be taken as inevitable and therefore, we bow to the nature; but how can deaths be accepted from collapse, fire and construction work because of some meagre excuses of shortage of manpower, low allocation or workload? The finance minister claims it was not a big issue! Holy crap! Over 1,100 people have been “killed” and many still missing and over 2,500 survivors rescued!!!

Please stop these stereotype-nonsense statements, wake up and do something special to avert massive deaths of the poor people as per the guidelines in the country’s Constitution! We are a big country – engage the people towards justice, ensure accountability of the authorities concerned!! We all wanna “live”, “safely”!!!


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