The Bangladesh government report on the causes of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar had no surprises, saying the disaster stemmed from irregularities in building codes.
Rescue workers have been saying all along that the construction materials used in the eight-story building that collapsed on April 24, taking 1,127 lives, were poor. Administration officials had already observed that Rana Plaza violated laws, being built on swampy ground.
The six-member committee, led by additional home secretary Khandker Mainuddin Ahmed, produced the report just ahead of the one-month mark after the collapse of the building. The report noted that “an improper mixture of cement and sand and low-quality iron rods and cement weakened the building” and were against the Bangladesh national building code.
The report made a dozen recommendations, including a trial for manslaughter for the owner of the building, the factory owners and the engineers, with a punishment of life in prison if they were found guilty. The government has already arrested nine people in the case, including Sohel Rana, the owner of the building.
The recommendations made by the committee were wide-ranging — from providing more definitive help to the victims, especially medical treatment and prosthetic limbs for the amputees and immediate aid to the families of the dead to better checks on building codes, the need for trade unions and a better wage for workers.
Vigilance could be intensified with CCTV cameras, more regular inspections and even a national disaster response force that could respond to situations with the required training and a separate rescue wing in the fire service department, the report said.
It emphasized the need for separate ready-made garment villages, which could better adhere to the norms required by the industry and that did not disrupt everyday life.
Meanwhile, in Ashulia, an important manufacturing area in Dhaka where more than 400 garment factories catering to global companies are located, worker protests continued on Thursday and more than 100 factories remained shut, according to officials of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The unrest in Ashulia, which has been continuing for two weeks, has hardened positions between employers and workers. Workers have been demanding higher wages and their protests have become violent at times, with arson, attacks on vehicles and the vandalizing of factories. This has prompted the government to step in and assure employers of “safety, protection and the need to go ahead with business as usual.”
Government officials also have reminded workers that a wage board would be formed shortly and their grievances addressed.