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The tragic building collapse in Bangladesh

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The eight story Rana Plaza, which was illegally built by defying the building codes had housed 4 different units of RMG (Ready Made Garments) factories, among other businesses. Built upon a pond/canal, the foundation of the building was wrong to start with (meant for four story building anyway).

It was not intended to be a factory, meant to be a shopping mall. This eight story building now had about 8,000 people working in it with lots of heavy machinery and equipment. On the top floor sat a large power generator. With frequent power disruptions in the area, the howling giant would start off with a shake sending shivers down the spines of the workers a number of times a day. But the factory owners and the building owner remained nonchalant - busy meeting buyers' deadlines and counting money. That the building was no longer able to bear the burden anymore was written all over through myriad calligraphy of cracks.

Finally, just two days before the tragedy, the local authorities woke up. Went to the site, marked it as unfit, and instructed to stop all businesses there. But the owner of the building with close connection with the ruling political party decided to give damn to the ban. Even the factory owners defied the orders and opened the factory on 24the April, saying that these were mere "plaster cracks" (so no risk). As advised, the poor workers who came to collect their dues on the day of the tragedy, were forced to resume work (otherwise no pay). Soon after the Work started, power went off. The illegally installed roof-top generator shook the building again with a howl. The killer Rana Plaza caved in on a few thousand human souls - mostly poor women. The total count on death toll exceeded 900, thanks to the dedication and hard work of the rescuers, 2,437 people were rescued alive from the rubble. Many of them are maimed and disabled for life!


With regard to "Information Management for DRR" My points are:


1) Information of risk is not enough (permission for four story building -made it eight), if authorities don't act,

2) Knowledge and awareness is important (so you take signs of danger - the cracks on the wall seriously),

3) What do we do with the whole question linked to "corporate greed", export oriented production process distributing disaster risks to the countries of the South; Cheaper clothes in the West causing poorer pay to workers here and poor working conditions compromising work-place safety rules etc. Do we not need knowledge and awareness there too?


Muhammad Taher.

Duryog Nivaran member

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