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When will we learn?

  • Published at 12:06 am April 9th, 2019
Rana Plaza
A lesson we can’t afford to forget NASHIRUL ISLAM

We can prevent future disasters if we learn from our mistakes

The recent incidents in Bangladesh remind me of a quote  “the greatest learning of history is that human beings do not learn from history.” 

The continuous recurrence of unfortunate events that are killing hundreds of innocents are making me wonder: Couldn’t we have prevented these disasters from taking place if we learnt from the similar incidents that happened in the past?

When in 2010, the fire in Nimtoli, Old Dhaka took the lives of 123 people, we thought that was enough for the stakeholders to take action to prevent future happenings. 2019 arrived, and another fire incident, in Old Dhaka, the same reasoning of illegal storage of chemical materials, and led to 70 people dying an agonizing death.

Not too long ago, our school-going children came down to the streets of Dhaka protesting road accidents. I was hoping for the authorities to take visible steps that would minimize the absolute chaos on the roads. But again, learning from the past is not something we do well. There is no single day that I can talk of, where the newspapers lack news of brutal deaths on the roads. After that remarkable movement last August, for some week, things seemed better, but it didn’t take long to get back to “normalcy.” 

Since the Rana Plaza tragedy, we are well aware of the imperfections in constructions in Dhaka. Yet, despite multiple fatal incidents, we are yet to be concerned about following proper building codes. The recent fire incident in Banani brought that to light once again.

But obviously for a limited time, and we are about to forget it soon.

I must say that as a nation, our memory is worse than even a goldfish. We have accepted that there will be fatal incidents intermittently, that huge media coverage will follow, there will be television talk shows about “should be’s and should not be’s.” 

After all that, everything will go silent again. 

Putting everything together, as long as we are not learning from the past and using that experience in fixing the flaws in the system, people will keep losing loved ones in the most tragic ways. 

Ratnadeep Toorja is a freelance contributor.