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Savar Rana Plaza tragedy claimed 1,134 lives

Dear Editor:
This refers to the article "Let there be no more tragedy like 2013 Savar Rana Plaza" by  Mr. A. M. K. Chowdhury (The Holiday 1 July 2018) in which he has vividly recounted the disaster.
Savar building collapse was a structural failure when a five-story commercial building named Rana Plaza collapsed and people were killed. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building alive. It is considered the deadliest structural failure accident in modern human history, and therefore also the deadliest garment-factory accident in history.
After so many deaths in the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse at Savar in 2013, the garment industry looks set to return to business as usual. It is true that combined efforts of the government, entrepreneurs, apparel makers, workers' rights groups, NGOs and inspection bodies such as the Accord and Alliance, have led to substantial progress in fire, electrical and structural safety in Bangladesh's garment factories. Foreign offers to provide rescue teams could have saved more victims.
It was reported that the industrial police first requested the evacuation of the building until an inspection had been conducted. It was also reported that Abdur Razak Khan, an engineer, declared the building unsafe and requested public authorities to conduct a more thorough inspection; he was arrested for helping the owner illegally add three floors. It is also reported that Kabir Hossain Sardar, the Upazila Nirbahi Officer who visited the site, met with Sohel Rana, the building's owner, and declared the building safe. Sohel Rana said to the media that the building was safe and workers should return to work the next day. One manager of the factories in the Rana Plaza reported that Sohel Rana told them that the building was safe.
According to news report Bangladesh rejected offers of search and rescue teams from Britain and other countries to rescue victims when the nine-storied Rana Plaza at Savar collapsed on April 24, 2013. Teams of local rescuers had been working there for survivors. Both foreign and home ministries of Bangladesh rejected the offers because they feared that accepting aid would damage 'national pride' as reported in an English language daily on April 30, 2013.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W. Mozena assured the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister that the US government was ready to help the Savar victims. The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, a network of disaster-prone and disaster responding UN member states and other organisations, reportedly offered the government for specialist search and rescue teams within four hours of the disaster, as reported on May 1, 2013.
M K Alamgir gave his ridiculous "pillar theory." Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir said the government turned down the offers because foreign assistance was not needed. He introduced 'pillar theory' that Rana Plaza might have collapsed due to shaking of its pillars by some BNP pro-hartal activists. Local people and some organizations came forward for rescue operation. Besides Army personnel, law enforcing agencies and fire brigade men, working people, youths, students and bearded Islamic or Madrassah educated persons who are not allowed to get themselves admitted to the universities, were working there to rescue victims. But they did not get proper tools and equipment, oxygen cylinder with mask, flashlights, saline, hand gloves etc as reported in the media.
Sohel Rana, the local leader of the Jubo League, the youth front of the ruling Awami League, is the owner of the Rana Plaza who worked there under the direct patronage of local AL Member of Parliament Murad Jong. So, he did not care at all to follow the prescribed building code to construct the building.
Foreign assistance for rescue operation could damage "national pride", but when Pope Francis the religious leader of Roman Catholic Church said garment workers in Bangladesh are treated as slaves of this age of the world, as reported in the media on May 3, 2013. Did it not damage our national pride?
As Bangladeshi workers took the streets to demand better working conditions and the official death toll rose, Pope Francis said he was shocked by a headline that some of the workers were living on €38 (£32) a month.
Bangabir Abdul Kader Siddiqui (Bir Uttam) President of the Krishak Sramik Janata League, said the government had signed arms purchase deal for Tk. 12 thousand crore with Russia, the commission of which would be Tk. 3 thousand crore. What is the harm if the government purchases heavy lifting equipment like cranes of 500 tonnes, hydraulic jacks, rod cutting machines, guarder etc. for quick rescue work? It is unacceptable that Bangladesh Army has no such equipment. Where will we go if there is war with the enemies as reported in a Bangla daily on April 30, 2013. (The Bangladesh Protidin)
So, foreign assistance was necessary for rescue operation. Foreign offers to provide experienced rescue teams could have saved more victims much earlier, there is no doubt about it.
Regarding workplace safety in a factory or industrial setting, a company itself must first eliminate all the hazards, put in place policies meant to protect the workers and then the employees must adhere to the safety rules. In most cases, industrial and factory safety guidelines are normally designed to minimize the risk of worker injury when they are conducting their production tasks.
Shafiq Adnan Nabil
Neelkhet, Dhaka

Comment

Dear Editor:
This refers to the article "Let there be no more tragedy like 2013 Savar Rana Plaza" by  Mr. A. M. K. Chowdhury (The Holiday 1 July 2018) in which he has vividly recounted the disaster.
Savar building collapse was a structural failure when a five-story commercial building named Rana Plaza collapsed and people were killed. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building alive. It is considered the deadliest structural failure accident in modern human history, and therefore also the deadliest garment-factory accident in history.
After so many deaths in the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse at Savar in 2013, the garment industry looks set to return to business as usual. It is true that combined efforts of the government, entrepreneurs, apparel makers, workers' rights groups, NGOs and inspection bodies such as the Accord and Alliance, have led to substantial progress in fire, electrical and structural safety in Bangladesh's garment factories. Foreign offers to provide rescue teams could have saved more victims.
It was reported that the industrial police first requested the evacuation of the building until an inspection had been conducted. It was also reported that Abdur Razak Khan, an engineer, declared the building unsafe and requested public authorities to conduct a more thorough inspection; he was arrested for helping the owner illegally add three floors. It is also reported that Kabir Hossain Sardar, the Upazila Nirbahi Officer who visited the site, met with Sohel Rana, the building's owner, and declared the building safe. Sohel Rana said to the media that the building was safe and workers should return to work the next day. One manager of the factories in the Rana Plaza reported that Sohel Rana told them that the building was safe.
According to news report Bangladesh rejected offers of search and rescue teams from Britain and other countries to rescue victims when the nine-storied Rana Plaza at Savar collapsed on April 24, 2013. Teams of local rescuers had been working there for survivors. Both foreign and home ministries of Bangladesh rejected the offers because they feared that accepting aid would damage 'national pride' as reported in an English language daily on April 30, 2013.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W. Mozena assured the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister that the US government was ready to help the Savar victims. The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, a network of disaster-prone and disaster responding UN member states and other organisations, reportedly offered the government for specialist search and rescue teams within four hours of the disaster, as reported on May 1, 2013.
M K Alamgir gave his ridiculous "pillar theory." Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir said the government turned down the offers because foreign assistance was not needed. He introduced 'pillar theory' that Rana Plaza might have collapsed due to shaking of its pillars by some BNP pro-hartal activists. Local people and some organizations came forward for rescue operation. Besides Army personnel, law enforcing agencies and fire brigade men, working people, youths, students and bearded Islamic or Madrassah educated persons who are not allowed to get themselves admitted to the universities, were working there to rescue victims. But they did not get proper tools and equipment, oxygen cylinder with mask, flashlights, saline, hand gloves etc as reported in the media.
Sohel Rana, the local leader of the Jubo League, the youth front of the ruling Awami League, is the owner of the Rana Plaza who worked there under the direct patronage of local AL Member of Parliament Murad Jong. So, he did not care at all to follow the prescribed building code to construct the building.
Foreign assistance for rescue operation could damage "national pride", but when Pope Francis the religious leader of Roman Catholic Church said garment workers in Bangladesh are treated as slaves of this age of the world, as reported in the media on May 3, 2013. Did it not damage our national pride?
As Bangladeshi workers took the streets to demand better working conditions and the official death toll rose, Pope Francis said he was shocked by a headline that some of the workers were living on €38 (£32) a month.
Bangabir Abdul Kader Siddiqui (Bir Uttam) President of the Krishak Sramik Janata League, said the government had signed arms purchase deal for Tk. 12 thousand crore with Russia, the commission of which would be Tk. 3 thousand crore. What is the harm if the government purchases heavy lifting equipment like cranes of 500 tonnes, hydraulic jacks, rod cutting machines, guarder etc. for quick rescue work? It is unacceptable that Bangladesh Army has no such equipment. Where will we go if there is war with the enemies as reported in a Bangla daily on April 30, 2013. (The Bangladesh Protidin)
So, foreign assistance was necessary for rescue operation. Foreign offers to provide experienced rescue teams could have saved more victims much earlier, there is no doubt about it.
Regarding workplace safety in a factory or industrial setting, a company itself must first eliminate all the hazards, put in place policies meant to protect the workers and then the employees must adhere to the safety rules. In most cases, industrial and factory safety guidelines are normally designed to minimize the risk of worker injury when they are conducting their production tasks.
Shafiq Adnan Nabil
Neelkhet, Dhaka


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