Fire official: Bangladesh factory should have been shut down
DHAKA, Bangladesh — The factory where 112 garment workers died in a fire should have been shut down months ago. The fire department refused to renew the certification it needed to operate, a top fire official told The Associated Press. And its owner told AP that just three of the factory's eight floors were legal. He was building a ninth.
Government officials knew of the problems, but the factory just kept running.
The Capital Development Authority could have fined Tazreen Fashions Ltd. or pushed for the demolition of illegally built portions of the building, said an agency official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. But it chose to do nothing, rather than confront one of Bangladesh's most powerful industries, he said.
“I must say we have our weaknesses. We could not do that,” he said. “Not only Tazreen. There are hundreds more buildings. That's the truth.”
Bangladesh's $20 billion-a-year garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of Bangladesh's total export earnings, goes virtually unchallenged by the government, said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, a labor rights group.
“These factories should be shut down, but who will do that?” she said. “Any good government inspector who wants to act tough against such rogue factories would be removed from office. Who will take that risk?”
Fire officials did challenge the factory, though they appeared reluctant to go too far.
When the factory's fire safety certification expired June 30, Dhaka's fire authorities refused to renew it, a fire official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
A factory must be certified to operate, but the department usually gives factory owners some time to upgrade conditions. If they fail to do so, the department can file a court case to get it closed down. But it rarely does, and did not in Tazreen's case.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Coal miner Alpha Natural Resources files for bankruptcy
- Muni bond funds stressed
- Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
- Pa. improves performance among competitive electric markets
- Small business hangs on fate of Export-Import Bank
- When it comes to home ownership, Hispanics finding locked doors
- FirstEnergy to build coal waste processing facility in Beaver County
- Extended oil slump takes toll
- Off-duty but on call: Suits seek overtime
- Tech Q&A: Why you should test your router
- $2-per-gallon gas expected by year’s end, but not in Western Pa.