The devastation at Korail in the aftermath of Thursday’s fire once again brings to light just how poor the living conditions are in Dhaka slums.
This begs the question: Why are poor people forced to live in slums in the capital in the first place?
Why are we failing so badly at providing affordable housing of a decent standard to our working class?
The truth is, while Bangladesh spends billions of dollars on unnecessary and potentially harmful projects in the name of development, more urgent matters get neglected.
The need of the hour is to focus on creating employment opportunities outside of Dhaka.
Serious, planned development outside Dhaka will put a check on the unmanageable inflow of people coming to the city desperate for work.
A productive way to spend government money would be to invest $13 billion, which we know the government has, in developing 13 industrial towns between Dhaka and Chittagong.
The towns will cost $1bn each and would be located between Dhaka and Chittagong.
If we could successfully build such towns, complete with low-income but high-quality housing, schools, hospitals for workers and their families, and conventional, environmentally sound power plants, the income generated would lift up the living standards of the whole country.
Needless to say, Dhaka would also become much more liveable in the process.
Our government should take a close look at how public money is spent, and what the country gets in return.
It is entirely possible to transform Bangladesh if we learn to invest wisely.