FT Online

2019-05-12 11:09:50 BdST

Banners on fire risks at city high-rise bldgs disappear

The banners hoisted at a number of high-rise buildings in the city warning about their fire hazards have disappeared in less than two months after the deadly Banani fire incident.

After the devastating fire at Banani's FR Tower that killed 26 people on March 28 last, the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence (BFSCD) conducted an assessment of fire safety at the high-rise buildings in the city.

It found 120 of the buildings highly vulnerable to fire incidents and hoisted banners in the front of the structures alerting the people using those to the fire hazards.

During visits to some of the places, the correspondent did not find any of the banners in place at the multi-storied commercial buildings.

Tenants of those buildings and firemen said the building authorities removed the banners few weeks after they had been hoisted, without installing necessary arrangements.

The Bangabazar Shopping Complex at Phulbaria in the city is one of the non-compliant high-rise structures. The warning banner at the building has been removed by the management.

Talking to the FE, Dulal Ahmed Khan of Bangabazar Complex Business Association said the BFSCD hoisted the banner.

The building authorities later took necessary safety measures before removal of the banner, he claimed. "Now, there is no problem. Everything is fine here."

When asked what safety measures they took after removal of the banner, he did not give any reply. He left the place saying that he had another appointment.

When contacted, BFSCD Director (operations and maintenance) Major AKM Shakil Newaz said they hosted the cautionary banners at the buildings which lacked minimum safety measures.

But the building owners often remove them without taking required steps, he lamented.

He said they would start visiting those places again and put in place the banners again.

"We can't take legal action against them for removing the banners. We don't have this authority," he said.

Senior station officer at Baridhara Fire Station Abul Kalam Azad said they found many commercial buildings vulnerable to fire incidents after the Banani fire.

He said they asked the building owners to take necessary safety measures.

"But owners did not take any step to ensure safety and they remove the banners thinking that it is an insult to them. This is very unfortunate. If any incident happens, who will be responsible for it? Of course, the owners," he said.

When contacted, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakha (Rajuk) member (development) Major (retd) Engr. Shamsuddin Ahmed Chowdhury said people should take NoC (no objection certificate) from the BFSCD before getting the structural design approved.

Based on the NoC, the Rajuk then would approve the building design, he said.

"So, here, Rajuk has nothing to do," he added.

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