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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Bailey Road Tragedy: Government agencies trading blame

  • Experts call fire result of ‘collective negligence’
  • Lack of coordination among stakeholders worsened situation
Update : 04 Mar 2024, 09:44 AM

In the aftermath of the devastating fire at the Green Cozy Cottage building on Bailey Road in the capital, a blame game has erupted among various government agencies. 

A total of six government organizations, including Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakhha (Rajuk), the city corporation, the ministries of commerce and home affairs, the Department of Environment (DoE), and the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD), find themselves under scrutiny as fingers are pointed in various directions.

Experts have labelled this incident as yet another instance of “collective negligence,” raising questions as to how the building was allowed to host several restaurants and shops without proper approvals and oversight.

The absence of coordination and accountability among government bodies, residential associations, market entities, building owners, and other stakeholders has exacerbated the situation. Experts argue that had there been awareness of the risks involved, or at least a semblance of accountability, such horrific incidents could have been averted, or their impact mitigated.

Ashraful Islam, an urban planner and director of the Detailed Area Planning (DAP) project at Rajuk, revealed that commercial approval had been obtained for the building up to the seventh floor, but solely for office purposes. Approval for restaurants or showrooms was conspicuously absent. Queries regarding the post-approval process and monitoring procedures remained unanswered.

The blame extends to the construction company, Amin Mohammad Group, which allegedly secured approval for a seven-story commercial structure, not a hub of restaurants.

Meanwhile, officials of the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) attributed the fire to non-compliance with building construction regulations. City Corporation guidelines mandate the provision of two staircases for buildings exceeding five floors, while the Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting Act stipulates the necessity of fire exits and additional staircases for buildings surpassing six floors.

Preliminary investigations by the police uncovered financial irregularities involved in obtaining permits for operating restaurants within the building, according to a senior law enforcement official. The probe is ongoing to identify those who reaped the benefits of such malpractice.

In addition, officials from the ministries of commerce and home affairs and the DoE claimed ignorance regarding their responsibilities in the matter. Despite existing regulations, the regulatory bodies under the commerce ministry allegedly failed to monitor compliance.

Fire Service and Civil Defence officials lamented their lack of enforcement power beyond issuing warning notices, which, in this case, had been issued multiple times but to no avail.

Experts analyzing the performance of both governmental and non-governmental organizations have concluded that the prevailing collective negligence”within these institutions ultimately results in the loss of innocent lives. 

Professor Mehdi Ahmed Ansari from the Civil Engineering Department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) emphasized the pivotal role that Rajuk could play in ensuring proper monitoring and compliance. 

Regular inspections are essential to ensure that construction companies adhere to disaster-resistant building standards, he added.

Timeline: Bailey Road fire
04 Mar 2024, 09:00
Bailey Road Tragedy: Government agencies trading blame
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