The woes of crippled survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse are continuing even five years after the deadly factory building disaster that killed 1,138 workers and left more than 2,400 others injured on April 24, 2013.
Traumatized injured survivors feel ignored not getting proper follow-up treatments they can’t afford on their own.
The collapse of the eight-storied Rana Plaza that housed five apparel factories at Savar, on the outskirts of the capital, robbed happiness of countless families as their bread earners permanently lost their ability to work.
Injured survivor Sheuli Akter, who used to work at New Wave Style, told New Age Sunday that as she can’t work daily meals became uncertain for her extended family.
‘My husband being a day labourer with his limited wage he cannot afford to bear the costs of my expensive medicines,’ said 28-year old Sheuli, having no children of her own.
What torments her more is that she would never be able to be a mother or work to support her extended family including her husband’s parents.
Survivor Feli Begum at 34 became invalid since her recovery in an unconscious state from beneath piles of debris.
Her rescue hit headlines considering it to be a miracle that she was alive for long under the debris.
But now her only wish is to die to get relief from excruciating pains in which she passes sleepless nights due to the crippling injuries she had sustained on her spinal cord and the left side of her body particularly her left arm and leg.
According to a survey report of ActionAid Bangladesh, around 49 per cent of Rana Plaza survivors could not return to work over the last five years while around 51 per cent of them were now either self-employed or low paid day labourers.
The same report states, at least 12 per cent of the injured reported that their condition was deteriorating as most of them did not get proper treatment.
ActionAid quoted the survivors as saying that headache, pain in hand and leg and back pain and trauma as common problems facing them.
The survey, unveiled last week, found 21.6 per cent of the Rana Plaza disaster survivors became day labourers.
In terms of psychosocial health, the survey finds 22.5 per cent of the survivors still felt traumatized while 63 per cent were ‘more or less stable’.
Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati president Taslima Akter said that that neither the government nor the BGMEA took the responsibility of treatment of the survivors though most of them became jobless.
She said that the BGMEA even did not listen to the survivors who had gone to the BGMEA to narrate their sad stories.
Immediately after the factory building collapse, a committee formed by the order of the court identified 221 victims out of over 2,400 who need long-term treatment which were not provided to them.
The names of nearly maimed Nilufa Begum, Runi Akter, Parvin, Maleka, Nasima, Rina and others were there in list prepared by the committee that was formed by the governments following the court’s directives.
The injured survivors no more consider themselves to be lucky to be alive due to the subhuman conditions to which they were reduced by the factory disaster.
Injured survivor Mahmudul Hasan Hridoy said that he moved from door to door seeking a job but no company would employ him as his right leg was paralysed.
Survivor Mahmudul Hasan Hridoy, president of Savar Rana Plaza Survivors Association of Bangladesh said that many apparel factory workers were fired after they had gone to their factories to resume work with their physical problems.
BGMEA president Md Siddiqur Rahman told New Age that they had arranged injured workers’ treatment but none came to avail of it.
‘If anyone demands treatment we will provide it free of cost,’ he said.
Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies executive director Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed also a trustee of Rana Plaza Trust said that they were yet to get money from the global fund that was created under the leadership of the ILO for meeting the treatment costs of the survivors.
He said that they prepared a list of workers who were injured in the Rana Plaza disaster as well as the victims of Tazreen Fashion fire.
He said that the list includes 450 injured workers of the two factories.
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