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OP-ED: After all, we don’t care

  • Published at 03:48 am September 11th, 2020
Narayanganj_Coffin_Opu
Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Our indifference and selfishness is to blame for accidents like the Narayanganj fire

Every place seems to be a death trap. 

By now, we have all heard of the deadly explosion in a Narayanganj mosque on September 4 that led to the tragic deaths of 25 people; dozens were injured are currently undergoing treatment at the burn institute.

Fire service officials suspect that the explosion was caused by a leakage from the gas pipeline. Leaky gas pipeline accidents are happening one after another due to long periods of non-maintenance and illegal or unprotected gas line connections.

Precious life is worthless today. Valuable resources are being wasted. As I am currently staying in Narayanganj, I have been able to see the painful environment here with my own eyes. 

Families are at sea after losing their sole earning members. Many of the families of the injured who have been admitted to the burn unit cannot afford to pay for their treatment, reported Dhaka Tribune.

Questions arise: If there was a gas line under or next to the mosque, why was this issue not addressed during construction? How could Titas, the gas distribution company, be so negligent? Who will be held responsible for this now?

This incident proves that we are mainly Dhaka-centric when it comes to medical facilities. If these patients in Narayanganj had received first aid, so many people would not have died. 

All the hospitals in the country should have arrangements for the first aid of burn patients. 

It is saddening that, in a big city like Narayanganj, there are no good medical facilities.

Incidents of such horrific fires have become commonplace in Bangladesh. According to media reports, 2,137 people were burnt to death in various fire incidents in 2019. 14,932 people were injured. 

In the last 10 years, at least 500 people have been killed in various accidents related to gas explosions across the country. Several thousand were injured.

Thousands of illegal gas connections are an open secret today. We are reckless, thinking that no one is watching, no one will see. 

Bangladesh does not have strict and effective enforcement of rules and regulations regarding building safety. In these cases, due to corruption, the issue of security is not taken into consideration.

As stated in media reports, Titas Gas, which is in charge of supplying gas in Dhaka division, has a 12,253km long pipeline. Of this, Dhaka has 7,000 kilometers -- 70% of which is very risky. Although some lines are changed intermittently, these lines are not well maintained otherwise.

Regrettably, we are reluctant to give up an inch of our land, making the job of fire brigades impossible to do. Our actions are constantly endangering our lives. 

For instance, you will see that, in many residential buildings in Dhaka, gas stoves are kept burning for hours just to save a Tk2 matchbox. This often leads to major accidents, claiming lives. We don’t care about any law.

On the other hand, when an accident happens, the administration’s tone shifts for a while. But, over time, the action against irregularities comes to a standstill. 

It has been proven numerous times that the employees of the supply authorities are involved with illegal connections. But there was no cure. The pain of death and burns due to irregularities and indifference cannot be accepted. 

Multiple investigation committees have been formed after the Narayanganj mosque blast. Some recommendations will be submitted again. The height of that recommendation pile will increase. 

Even after investigation of such accidents, effective measures are still not visible. We go back to our reckless habits.

The truth is that, due to our lack of unity and integrity, after Nimtali and Chawkbazar, a saddening incident took place in Narayanganj. 

In order to prevent the recurrence of such tragic and painful incidents, all of us must be united, orderly, and loyal in the interest of the nation and of humanity. We must avoid selfishness. 

Otherwise, we will not be able to prevent future accidents -- just like this one. 

Md Jahid Hashan is a student of political science.

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