Risky markets: Let all come to their senses

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

After the terrible fire at Bangabazar, traders have resumed business there, placing benches in the open. Alongside them, a cross section of people have come forward to help the affected businessmen of the charred market.

Chances of recovering from the losses like that are slim though. Shops of five thousand traders in the market have been burnt to ashes.

The picture of Dhaka’s markets that has surfaced in different investigative reports is undoubtedly worrying. Not only Bangabazar, many of the newer as well as older market buildings are risky.

Traders of Bangabazar were notified about the market being risky many times. It is extremely unfortunate that traders paid not heed.

Following the fire at Bangabazar it was learnt that Rajdhani Super Market, Gausia Market are risky as well. Fire Service has identified seven-eight markets in Dhaka as high-risk buildings.

The fire service basically identifies the fire risks. There are separate agencies to identify risk factors in infrastructure, gas, power and water supply lines.

The conditions of many buildings, whether markets or residences, are so bad that they can collapse any moment. Recently an accident was caused in a building at Siddikbazar from the gas line beneath the floor.

Private industry and investment advisor to the prime minister, Salman F Rahman while speaking at an event organised by a news agency said, “I believe, some markets in Dhaka will be shut down right after the Eid. One or two markets are being considered unsafe and there could be sudden disasters there. We have to take strict measures against them.” He however didn’t mention the name of any market.

The multilateral national committee, formed by the government to ensure overall safety of country’s factories, has labeled around 200 establishments highly risky after inspecting more than 5,000 factories and business establishments across the country. Salman F Rahman is the chief of this committee.

There are questions about how possible will it be to close down markets on the part of the government. We believe that businessmen themselves have to work towards keeping the market safe in their own interest. Because, if there’s an accident in the market they will suffer the most.

Apart from the city corporation and RAJUK, businessmen weren’t any less liable for the fire that broke out at Bangabazar. Market authorities remained silent even after being served 10 notices. This is nothing but a blatant invitation to an accident.

Authorities of Rajdhani Super Market, showing a sense of responsibility has taken up some precautionary steps after Fire Service announced the market to be risky. The steps include construction of a tank, capable of holding 200,000 litres of water.

Water had to be transported from Dhaka University’s pond to douse the fire of Bangabazar market. But, how much this measure taken up by Rajdhani Super Market authorities will reduce the risk, has to be considered.

We have to keep it in mind that markets won’t be safe only by making it fire safe. Infrastructure and services have to be ensured as well for that. In this case, whether responsible organisations are monitoring everything properly or not is also a matter of concern.

But often times the situation is that market inspections are mentioned in records but aren’t conducted in reality. It is hoped that the traders will be play the most responsible role in safety matters.