Law enforcement must come down hard on those impeding the work towards creating a safer environment for citizens
The Chawkbazar fire, which claimed the lives of almost 80 people, was a tragedy in a long line of tragedies that we seemingly have failed to learn anything from.
However, in its wake, one of the more noticeable steps taken by the government was setting up a two-tier task force comprising of law enforcement agencies, local representatives, magistrates, and officials from other departments and organizations, to drive out dangerous chemical depots which had, for too long, called Old Dhaka their home.
However, it is still very disheartening to learn that the drive to make the area safer is being met with vehement resistance from local businessmen and workers. Who, in one occasion, saw it fit to chase out the task force from the area, claiming that a gas cylinder was responsible for the horrific incident.
In letting such corrupt business owners flout rules and regulations for too long -- is it any surprise that safety precautions remain elusive almost everywhere in the country? So much so that a recent study found that a shocking 98% of all the hotels in the capital are currently at fire risk.
The similarities with the Nimtoli fire in 2010 and the way in which the Chawkbazar fire spread, among other things, remain clear indications of the chemicals being responsible for fueling the fire to such a devastating extent.
But, regardless of the cause, the fact remains that the housing of these chemicals in Old Dhaka is a safety risk that the authorities cannot afford to sit on.
We cannot let the owners of these businesses dictate the terms and conditions: Law enforcement must come down hard on those impeding the work towards creating a safer environment for citizens.
There can be no compromise on fire safety and the displacement of these chemicals to a safe designated area is the most prudent next step for everyone concerned.
When it comes to the lives of citizens, we all share responsibility.