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Dhaka Tribune

Top officials of Amin Mohammad Group vanish after Bailey Road fire

  • Most of their mobile phones were found switched off
  • The executive director left Bangladesh
Update : 03 Mar 2024, 01:44 PM

The Green Cozy Cottage, once a bustling hub in the capital’s Bailey Road, where people from all over Dhaka gathered to dine, now lies in ruins, consumed by fire.

At least 46 lives were lost in the devastating fire on Thursday, and yet several officials who were in charge of the building’s management are evading accountability by going into hiding.

The Green Cozy Cottage was constructed by Amin Mohammad Group, one of Bangladesh’s leading real estate companies.

The building was managed by Amin Mohammad Property Management Services Limited or AMPM, a sister concern of the company. 

According to several shopkeepers, traders and people associated with the building management, Amin Mohammad Group handed over the flats to AMPM in 2015. 

Since then, AMPM has been responsible for the building's security, safety measures, personnel for guarding, and lifts.

A fire breaks out at a restaurant in Bailey Road in Dhaka on Thursday night, February 29, 2024. Photo: Bangla Tribune

Officials in hiding

After the tragic incident, attempts to reach senior officials from the company affiliated with the manufacturer and management were unsuccessful. 

Most of their mobile phones were found switched off. 

Meanwhile, Mohammad Tanvirul Islam, executive director of Amin Mohammad Group, left Dhaka by a Turkish Airlines flight early Friday, said reliable sources of an intelligence agency and immigration at the airport. 

No senior official went to the head office of Amin Mohammad Group in the capital’s Dhanmondi on Saturday. 

The company's lawyer Zahid also refused to talk to reporters when contacted.

In the meantime, Gazi Ahmed Ullah, head of public relations of Amin Mohammad Group, said in a press release sent to the media on Saturday that the owner of the building is not Amin Mohammad Group. 

“Amin Mohammad Group has completed the construction work (as a developer) only in the joint venture. In this construction process, all the rules including the building code of Rajuk have been followed. When the construction of the building was completed in 2015, nine years ago, the ownership was also transferred. At present, the Green Cozy Cottage Space Owners Association is supervising the overall activities of the building.”

The image shows rescue works of fire service after a fire that breaks out in Bailey Road on Thursday, February 29, 2024. Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/ Dhaka Tribune

Were Rajuk’s regulations ignored?

According to a Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) source, the building was authorized for commercial office use till the fifth floor, while the sixth and seventh floors were designated for residential purposes.

After the transfer of ownership in 2015, the landowner and the builder sold their flats.

However, Md Ramzanul Haque Nihad, managing director of AMPM, bought the seventh-floor space (at least 1,600-1,800 square feet), and rented it to a Chinese restaurant named Hakka Dhaka a few months ago. Nihad is also the MD of the Amin Mohammad Group.

Sources also said the building had multiple “voids” -- spaces designed for light and air circulation. However, they were closed to expand usable space inside the building.

This limited ventilation system significantly contributed to the fire's impact.

The image shows the aftermath of Bailey Road fire in Dhaka. Photo: Ahadul Karim Ahad/Dhaka Tribune

Who are the arrestees?

Mohammad Salman Farsi, assistant commissioner (Ramna zone) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), said the manager of Green Cozy Cottage and Amin Mohammad Group Munshi Hamimul Haq Bipul, 45, was arrested on Saturday. 

However, sources from an intelligence agency said Bipul is only a supervisor of AMPM and not the manager. 

As of Saturday, at least eight members of the Amin Mohammad Group had been detained, the sources added. 

In the meantime, Bipul and four others were placed on a two-day remand.

The other arrestees are - Kacchi Bhai Manager Jishan, Cha Chumuk co-owners Anwarul Haq and Shakil Ahmed Rimon.

The image shows fire service`s effort to rescue the people trapped in the fire that breaks out at a restaurant in Bailey Road on Thursday night, February 29, 2024. Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Fire safety violations

Investigations have revealed that the fire originated from a gas cylinder explosion at the tea shop Chumuk, located beside the stairs on the ground floor of the building. 

Furthermore, Chumuk's gas cylinders were scattered along the stairs, which was also permitted by the building’s management. 

Consequently, those trapped inside the building were unable to utilize the stairs due to the obstruction caused by the stored gas cylinders.

In this regard, the Electronics Safety and Security Association of Bangladesh (ESSAB) General Secretary Zakir Uddin Ahmed said the building did not have the minimum fire alarm and fire safety systems. 

“Access to each floor was constricted. As a result, the fire spread rapidly. There was also no emergency door. I saw a gas cylinder lying next to the stairs. Even the fire extinguishers were not used,” he added.

At least four people have been arrested in connection with the fire in Bailey Road’s Green Cozy Cottage, that claimed the lives of 46 people. Over 20 others sustained severe injuries in the incident that took place on Thursday night. 

Firefighters rescued 70 people, including 42 in unconscious state, from the rooftop and different floors of the seven-storey Green Cozy Cottage.

Most of the people died as they jumped off the building or from burns or suffocation, said firefighters who brought the fire under control around 12:30am. 

Fire officials say the blaze spread fast due to the presence of gas cylinders on several floors in the restaurant kitchens. People could not leave the building due to smoke in the staircase.

Timeline: Bailey Road fire
03 Mar 2024, 11:48
Top officials of Amin Mohammad Group vanish after Bailey Road fire
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