According to international guidelines, common cargo containers and risk-prone cargo containers such as chemicals should not be kept together. There was confusion after the fire started because the authorities did not comply with the rules and the fire service personnel became its tragic victims. Apart from this, it is clear that there is a huge lack of fire safety and labour safety protocol in the depot.
Compliance of the export oriented industries including garments made in Bangladesh has improved a lot in the face of foreign buyers after multiple accidents in the sector. Apart from this, the dire situation of other manufacturing factories could be understood easily after the fire at the food factory in Rupganj. The fire and explosion at the Sitakunda container depot this time also displayed the same irregularities, non-compliance with the rules and extreme irresponsibility of all the concerned authorities.
Under the labour law, any large installation or factory must have a fire safety plan. The level and storage of combustible substances or risky products is very important here. With these in mind, the potential risk factors are considered and plans are made accordingly. It is seen that although there are all kinds of obligations in the law, practically nothing is obeyed.
In the case of Sitakunda, we noticed the issue of safety of workers was not prioritised from the beginning. If the workers had been evacuated first, there would not have been so many casualties. On the contrary, we can see that the security guards locked the gate and fled. In each case, more deaths occur due to this.
The responsibility of supervising the depot rests with many government authorities and institutions -- the port authority, the explosives department, the factory inspection authority, the environment department, the fire service authority and the local administration. Everyone must take responsibility for this horrible accident. Negligence and irregularities of government monitoring bodies have also appeared in previous accidents, but they got away every time. Various inquiry committees were formed by the government and civic initiatives and they made many recommendations. No steps are taken accordingly and that paves the way for another accident. When will our government and surveillance agencies be conscious? Or will it continue like this?
We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the Sitakunda incident. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure proper treatment of the injured. Hopefully, there will be no negligence. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the injured workers and their families get the promised compensation.