The tragedy in Savar should remind us all about how poorly employees are treated in Bangladesh, and how the government should step up efforts to ensure a safe working environment for the people it claims to represent.
While the owners of the factories should certainly be held responsible for continuing to use a building that is structurally unsafe, even to the untrained eye, the fact that there is no proper enforcement from government agencies that are supposed to ensure that work areas are safe is even more worrisome.
Government regulations about these matters do exist, but are often disregarded.
The government has long been aware that the relevant authorities do not have the adequate resources to enforce their directives.
While the Tazreen fire indicated that the government must be more vigilant with regard to regular factory inspections, this more recent tragedy in Savar highlights that the steps taken post-Tazreen have not gone nearly far enough.
The authorities previously told the owners that they needed to shut down until Buet engineers could inspect the building. Of course, the onus lies with the owners, but the fact remains that the authorities either could not or did not forcefully shut the premises down; an act that would have prevented the loss of life that the nation experienced yesterday.
The authorities clearly need to have access to the resources required to be able to fulfil their mandate. A system where employers can disregard the authorities and put lives at risk obviously does not work.
After Tazreen, the government had plenty of time to make the necessary changes to how these issues are dealt with. It should have found ways to ensure that structures are built to code; it should have taken legal action against those responsible for allowing these tragedies to occur; ultimately, it should have ensured that preventable industrial tragedies are, in fact, prevented.
Instead, it was busy pursuing its own self-serving agenda without regard to the consequences.
It is high time that the government steps up and actually performs its responsibilities; the people of the nation deserve that much.
The government's inaction and indifference should no longer be tolerated.