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All wake up after all burns

Drives against illegal eateries on

Published : 04 Mar 2024 10:33 PM | Updated : 05 Mar 2024 06:43 PM

Following the devastating fire at Bailey Road, the concerned authorities are apparently attempting to divert attention from negligence by conducting drives against restaurants and coffee shops in the capital, and elsewhere in the country. Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), Fire Service and Civil Defense, Police, and City Corporations initiated a comprehensive safety operation against the restaurants and coffee shops on Monday.

On Monday, RAJUK shut down 12 restaurants and demolished two eateries at the Gawsia Twin Peak building on Satmasjid Road in Dhanmondi of the capital.

Recently, the building had been criticized for not following proper fire safety measures.

After raiding the building on Monday, Rajuk Executive Magistrate Tanjina Sarwar, who is leading the operation, ordered the sealing of 12 restaurants and the demolition of two structures on the roof of the building as it was constructed without following regulations. 

After the operation, Tanjina Sarwar told reporters, “This building has been approved in F-1 category. According to that category, the building can be used as an office. But we observed that only part of two floors were allocated as offices during the inspection. In the rest, 12 to 15 restaurants have been rented out violating the rules. In addition, I got medicine and clothes shops.” She said that the restaurants 

are being sealed during the operation of the mobile court of RAJUK due to paying rent in violation of the rules.

The shut-down restaurants are Galito’s at 1st floor, Cafe Dolce at 2nd floor, Cafe Sao Paulo Limited and Adi Korai Gosto Ltd at 3rd floor, Yum Cha District and The Lobby Buffet at 4th floor, Aristocrat Lounge at 5th floor, White Hall at 6th floor, Meritage Dhaka at 7th floor, The Pan Pacific Lounge at 8th floor, Spice & Herbs and Culture & Cuisine at 9th floor, Chaap Ghor at 10th floor, Kavan Signature and K-Drobe at 11th floor.

The drives aim to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations and prevent potential fire hazards in buildings housing eateries, particularly in residential areas.

Due to the lack of fire safety measures, the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has sealed off the 11-storied Keari Crescent Tower in Jigatola, which houses several restaurants. 

Three people have been arrested in this connection and their companies were also fined Tk3 lakh, said DSCC Executive Magistrate Md Jahangir Alam. 

During the raid, it was seen that 10 restaurants in the 11-storey Keari Crescent Tower closed in advance, hearing the news of the drive. As a result, the Executive Magistrate could not enter 9 out of 10 restaurants. 

At the same time, the Executive Magistrate visited a restaurant and found LNG gas cylinders stored insecurely in the kitchen. Besides, LNG gas cylinders were seen lying insecurely in front of the emergency exit stairs in the building. 

The members of the fire service present during the operation said there is a risk of a major accident while going down the stairs, which was improperly made and dirty.

Besides, the fire service members also said that since the door to the roof is closed, there is no way for the people in the building to go in case of an accident.

The interior design of the two visa processing offices located on the 10th and 11th floors of the building, the rooms made of glass and wood are more vulnerable to fire, said Executive Magistrate Md Jahangir Alam. 

At that time, he ordered the police to arrest three people from the 11th-floor visa processing office. However, the three detainees claimed themselves to be office workers.

The arrested three workers were fined Tk 3 lakh. When asked why the workers would be fined, he said, “The office owner will pay the fine on their behalf.”

After the operation, Md Jahangir Alam told reporters, “The fire service members that accompanied us said there is not enough light and air circulation in this building. Gas cylinders are everywhere. Restaurants have also placed chairs on the stairs.”

When asked how the restaurants in the building got trade licenses, he said, “Since the restaurants are closed, it was impossible to see whether they have trade licenses. Besides, as no one was found in the building, it is impossible to know with which work permit the building was constructed.”

He also said, “We have sealed the building due to the lack of fire extinguishing system. There is only one staircase in the building which doesn't have enough space.”

The DSCC official further said there is no question of giving notice when a building becomes dangerous.

Asked why such action had not been taken earlier, he said, “The south city corporation covers a big area. We do a lot of work. It is not possible to take care of everything. If you complain to us, we act accordingly. Those who collect tax do not work to check if a building is risky or not. That’s the fire service’s job.”

Finally, a notice from the fire service was put up instructing that the building not be used.

Chief of Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Additional Commissioner Harun-or-Rashid on Monday said, “In addition to the police, the detective police are also keeping an eye on various restaurants in the capital. Strict action will be taken against those restaurants which are in fire hazard and lack security.'”

“After the death of a person, we mourn, cry and give advice. If we had fulfilled the responsibilities of every organisation, such an incident might not have happened. So now we are looking at every restaurant” he added.

Meanwhile, at least 381 people have been arrested by the police in raids on restaurants in different areas of the capital in the last 24 hours,

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) sources said on Monday.

Sources said that most of the detained people are restaurant managers. They have been asked for all the valid documents for running the restaurant. After checking these documents, legal action will be taken.

The DMP raided restaurants in various residential buildings under the Wari Division on Monday and arrested 20 people.

Md Iqbal Hossain, Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Wari Division, led the operation.

He said an operation is underway against those who run restaurants in residential buildings using gas cylinders negligently and dangerously.

The Deputy Commissioner said that inside the ‘I Love Mezzan’ restaurant at Rankin Street, there is an exit next to the kitchen that was found closed with various goods obstructing the way. The same situation can be seen in several other restaurants.

The police officer said that at least 20 people including the manager have been arrested from three restaurants so far. Gas cylinders have been seized.

The police also informed that the operation will continue in the restaurants of all the buildings on Rankin Street.

Earlier on Sunday, at least 50 restaurants came under the DMP drive with the detention of 37 owners and employees mainly for having lapses in fire safety measures.

In Chattogram, the Fire Service and Civil Defense started a week-long safety operation drive against the hotel and restaurant establishments.

During the operation, fire service officials will meticulously inspect the fire-fighting systems of hotels and restaurants, focusing on critical aspects such as fire exit points, the condition of gas cylinders, and the overall fire safety infrastructure within the buildings.

Starting Monday, 4 March, the operation would involve Fire Station Officers leading inspections in relevant areas across the city. 

Assistant Director Abdul Malek confirmed a comprehensive list of hotels and restaurants in residential areas will be compiled. Detailed reports flagging any safety concerns will then be submitted.