Yet again we are surrounded by a horrific fire incident that broke out at the Sat Tala slum in Mohakhali on Monday, destroyed at least 500 shanties, leaving hundreds of its residents homeless. This fire incident is indeed a clarion call for the city-planners to revise our existing housing policy, especially with regard to the expansion of slums known for their closely packed housing units. It is time for the government to make its housing policy more reflective of the dangers of such unplanned urbanization as we cannot afford to be callous when it comes to the issue of safety and security.
Fire accidents have become a regular phenomenon in the country, especially in the capital Dhaka. The number of fire incidents has increased more than threefold across Bangladesh since 1997. Frequent fire incidents taking place in the city have exposed the fact that hitherto we have not been able to take required lessons from the previous years’ deadly fire incidents.
Authorities concerned need to inspect the conditions of
different slums and ensure that a repeat of this
incident does not occur
Also, the fire incidents that are talking place in Dhaka exposes our lack of awareness and the time it takes for the fire service to douse the fire brings to the fore how ill-prepared the authorities are in handling such incidents.
Sat Tala slum was home to mostly low-wage earners, including garment workers, rickshaw-pullers, housemaids and day labourers. Their loss of homes meant that they are now headed into an uncertain future and many families, stripped of all their belongings and despite the temporary shelter offered by the government, might end up living on the streets. Therefore, the government should take immediate measures to rehabilite them properly. Last but not least, relevant authorities need to come up with a plan to inspect the conditions of different slums and ensure that a repeat of this incident does not occur.