Things have to change, and they need to change fast
What made the Chawkbazar fire an especially tragic event was that it was all preventable.
All stake-holders involved -- from law enforcement to business owners to employees -- were aware of the fact that the chemical warehouses situated in Old Dhaka were a safety hazard and needed to be moved.
But we refused to learn, even after a similar fire, exacerbated by chemicals, took the lives of more than 100 people in Nimtoli in the same area almost 10 years ago.
In fact, the government had plans to construct modern warehouses in Keraniganj which would have ensured a safe storage space for these chemicals but the owners had been unwilling.
This can no longer remain acceptable.
Things have to change, and they need to change fast, and it is up to the government and law enforcement agencies to ensure that such unsafe practices are no longer allowed to perpetuate.
Anyone who continues to flagrantly disregard the new plans to ensure safety for the denizens of Old Dhaka -- and, in fact, anywhere else in the country -- should be held accountable and punished to the full extent of the law.
What has been encouraging to see, however, is the support that the government has provided to the victims following the incident, further emphasized by the PM’s promise to restructure Old Dhaka’s lanes and roads to ensure that firefighting and other support vehicles can enter during incidents such as these.
Dhaka has often been plagued by unplanned development and this has inevitably caused many city-dwellers to suffer.
We hope all stake-holders involved take the PM’s words and directives seriously and work towards ensuring a safer environment for the people who call this city their home.