Putting out the flames

While the fact that the year opened with yet another devastating fire is unfortunate, it is hardly surprising

Bangladesh’s suffering due to our collective negligence over the issue of fire safety is perhaps a tradition by now, and anyone who has been to cramped marketplaces such as Nilkhet knows that it is a death trap waiting to explode in a city filled with them.

The recent fire in Nilkhet is one of those incidents that could have been prevented had the authorities paid enough attention, as is the case with most of our fires. But sadly, hindsight is 20/20, and when it comes to fire safety, it is always too little too late for us.

Bangladesh has a code of conduct that all structures need to follow which includes having fire safety equipment on the premises and not building structures in a way where a potential fire would be inevitable.

Unfortunately, all of this is absent in Nilkhet -- or indeed other similar establishments -- which is the case in most instances. The rules we have are not applied to most structures, which makes fires like this frequent.

Of course, a lot of the time the rules don’t apply because owners of said structures are influential enough to circumvent them. But, more importantly, it is the sheer apathy and negligence of the authorities responsible that allow such devastating fires to wreak havoc in the first place.

Unless and until we put an end to the culture of negligence at the root of such accidents, the flames will continue to burn.

This needs to be stopped. A drive has to be undertaken throughout the country to study different structures and close them up when necessary. The bodies currently in charge of ensuring infrastructure and building code is being followed also need to be investigated for any potential corruption.

We need to put out the flames, not fan them.