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Rana Plaza six years on

  • Published at 12:00 am April 24th, 2019
Rana Plaza
Photo: NASHIRUL ISLAM

It is important to acknowledge that unethical construction practices is a widespread problem

On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza collapse claimed 1,134 lives in the deadliest industrial disaster in modern history, and it is a day we vowed to never forget.

In the years that followed, numerous tragic events across the country, including fires in large buildings like the recent one at FR Tower in Banani, have exposed just how much building safety is neglected in the country -- from the construction stage, to maintenance, to evacuation procedures.

No doubt, faulty construction lies at the heart of the matter; Rana Plaza, for example, had been built on a filled-in pond, which compromised its structural integrity in the first place, three floors were built in violation of the original permit, and sub-standard construction material was used, thereby overloading the structure.

It is important to acknowledge that unethical construction practices, or raising unsafe buildings, whether industrial or residential, is a widespread problem which should not be pinned on the RMG industry alone.

Certainly, there is much for the RMG industry to do in terms of demanding safe structures, and making worker safety a priority, but overall building safety as is need in Bangladesh is a much broader issue than factory safety.

The dark side of Dhaka’s economic boom is that right now, the city is filled with more high-rise buildings than it should sustain, and thousands of these buildings, built in violation of code, and flouting warnings, are tragedies waiting to happen.

Human life is precious, and as we march towards development, we simply cannot afford to take these risks anymore -- it is time to thoroughly audit all buildings under threat, and take every precaution to guard against vulnerabilities.