Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Will we forget as we have before?

Update : 12 May 2013, 06:13 PM

There isn’t enough air to share amongst them. The morbid stench in the scarce air is ever increasing, as their hearts race for every bit of oxygen that their bodies can afford to consume. They know that the angel of death is looming over them too in the sinister darkness that engulfs them all, living and dead, paralyzing them with terror.

They count the precious moments that they have left before their hapless, fateful end. Still, somewhere deep inside their hearts pounding against their ribs they believe help will come. They believe this horrendous nightmare will soon be over. They will be able to extricate themselves from their predicament and get back to the life they had two and a half weeks earlier.

Life, with its worries of paying the rent, of managing three meals a day, of dreaming of buying the colourful dress on display at the roadside shop, of affording books and stationery for the kids, of getting a day off from work and enjoying time with family and friends.

Family and friends, where are they be now? Just outside the site of the accident maybe – yearning, yet frightened, of what they might learn. So close, yet too far to reach out.

Family, friends and the pedestrian worries of life seem so far-flung now in this gruesome darkness. The only thing that matters is enduring the constant pain that accompanies each of those who are trapped. The pain does not diminish at all – it just increases with each moment. A reality that eliminates all thought of even the faintest joy and optimism from their minds.

Each moment in their current reality is a living hell for them. They had no notion that their realities would would change so drastically within a span of minutes. But what really got them into this?

Surely, for them the threat of being fired from their jobs and denied their hard-earned (however meagre) salary is like cutting off a major lifeline that maintains their survival and that of their large families. Obviously, such threats meant that they would be prepared to take risks, especially when they were told that the risks were nearly negligible. So up they climbed toward their workplaces, with a tingle of uneasiness on their minds regarding the potential hazards involved, leading to that which we all have watched in horror.

Sheer recklessness regarding the value of human life, because you know that it is more important to put your consignment deadlines, prospect of future contracts and higher profits ahead of common sense, safety rules, humanity and everything in between.

The pain felt by your workers does not concern you – you are not one of those trapped in the collapsed floors of that deadly site; all you may care about is the loss of machinery, workspace and international contracts. And workers dead and maimed? More will come to take their place, of course.

Nothing to worry about. After all, it’s a developing country with lots of unemployed people looking to earn a living! Just make sure you give the correct “gifts” to the appropriate authorities and find your way out of this mess. This is what has been happening since … wait! I cannot even remember when it hasn’t happened in this way.

So are those responsible for this reprehensible act of mass murder going to slip through the fingers of the law? Are people ever going to look beyond their greed and care for the people they are ultimately responsible for? Are simple safety rules and regulations ever going to be practically implemented by the government, or will the authorities still keep making petty excuses for their indifference? How many more lives will be claimed like this?

The formation of an investigation committee, wide media coverage and public outrage will continue for handful of days and the case is closed before we know it, just as the Tazreen and Spectrum cases were.

Tazia Rahman is a Research Assistant, BDI. 

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