Action must follow minister’s Banani fire remark

Published: 00:00, Mar 31,2019


THE housing and public works minister’s statement of Friday that Banani high rise fire that left 26 people dead till Saturday is not merely an accident but murder needs to be taken into consideration. He said that the FR Tower, which has approval for 18 storeys, was extended upward by five more storeys. The minister promised to bring all those responsible for the disaster to justice after investigation. He also said that around 66 per cent of the buildings in the capital were built flouting the approved plans and added that they would take action if involvement of government officials was found in illegal expansion of the building. The owners of the building constructed additional floors in violation of rules and regulations. As per the Bangladesh National Building Code, the installation of fire extinguishing system is mandatory while constructing a building but the code was not followed while building the FR Tower. We appreciate the minister’s realisation of the fact. But we cannot remain content with his words alone. We would be happy if the responsible individuals, including the owners of the building, could be brought to justice.
One cannot forget that so many people died in the FR Tower fire because of the greed and indifference of the building owners. At least five committees have been set up by different authorities to investigate the fire and they would submit their reports. But wee expect that necessary action would be taken against those who would be found responsible in the reports. Allegations are rife that investigations of such incidents are stalled, often indefinitely, because of underhand dealings between the accused and the authorities. Then, of course, it is also possible that such cases hardly reach their logical conclusion because of the ineptitude and inefficiency of the investigators and the prosecutors. In the end, prohibitive legal precedents, required to prevent recurrence of such disasters and concomitant casualties, are not set, emboldening unscrupulous owners and contractors to compromise on quality and safety flouting the building code. The authorities concerned should also conduct drives on a regular basis and take legal action against those who would fail to show fire and building safety measures. All that we mean to say is that the authorities must show zero tolerance towards illegal buildings, their owners and government officials involved in their construction.
To make the promise of the housing and public works minister come true in this regard, it is imperative that the authorities concerned should order competent and credible inquiry of not only the FR Tower fire but also other such incidents and have the responsible individuals prosecuted efficiently and punished exemplarily. Coordination between Rajuk and the city corporations to ensure safe building construction is also of paramount importance.

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