Disasters & Accidents

Rana Plaza tragedy looms over Bangladesh textile industry after 10 years

By Azad Majumder

Dhaka, Apr 24 (EFE).- Bangladesh on Monday marked a decade since the Rana Plaza tragedy, one of the worst industrial accidents with over 1,000 deaths, with many of the victims and their families still awaiting justice.

On Apr.24, 2013, the nine floors of the Rana Plaza building collapsed as thousands of workers from five textile factories were inside the building.

The place manufactured for some 30 international clothing brands, attracted by low costs and cheap labor the place offered.

Sohel Rana, owner of the building, had claimed that the Rana Plaza would not collapse in the next 100 years, even though the structure had begun to crack a day earlier, according to court documents cited by the Dhaka Tribune newspaper.

The tragedy, which resulted in the death of some 1,130 people and left more than 2,500 injured, forced urgent reforms and corrections in the labor sector, including a revision of wages, changes in the labor law and the labor market, as well as the creation of a compensation fund for victims.

While this led to a reduction in the number of work-related accidents and deaths over the years, Bangladesh continues to face serious industrial safety problems, recording 180 incidents and 13 deaths last year, according to a report by the center for policy research on safety in the garment sector.

These recent numbers marked an end to four consecutive years of a downward trend in such cases and casualties.

Last year also witnessed a fewer number of inspections carried out, falling to 3,560 from 6,227 in the fiscal year 2020-21.

Earlier this month, a Dhaka court granted bail to Rana, one of the main accused in the tragedy, but he could not be released as the Supreme Court stayed the decision following an appeal from the prosecution.

“We gave up hope of justice. It has been 10 years, but neither Rana nor any of the factory owners could be punished,” said Jasmine Akter, one of the thousands of workers who were inside the building at the time of the disaster.

She spent six months in the hospital and many other years in a wheelchair as a result of her injuries that day.

Like the rest of the survivors, she sought justice to be meted out to Rana, who allegedly had permission to build only.

A total 41 people were charged in connection with the collapse, 38 of them for murder. Rana is the only one among them still behind bars, while three of the defendants have since died.

The trial had its first hearing on Sep.18, 2016, before it was postponed several times on different procedural grounds.

“The trial of the people responsible for the incident should have been completed by now. It is frustrating not to see that happening very soon,” Saiful Islam, whose sister was killed in the accident, told EFE.

The executive director of Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity, Kalpona Akter, went as far as to claim that Rana enjoyed impunity as he was backed by an “invisible” force.

Despite such black-and-white evidence, the trial could not be completed. An invisible force is backing him. Clearly he has been given impunity,” said Akter.

Meanwhile, survivors and families of those who died in the tragedy visited Monday the site where the Rana Plaza building stood in Savar, neighboring Dhaka, to mark yet another year of the incident that left a dark imprint on their lives, while paying homage to the victims and protesting against the little progress made in the trial.

Apart from justice, their demands cover several issues such as an increase in wages for garment industry workers, necessary rehabilitation and medical care for those injured in the tragedy and who continue to suffer its consequences, and the creation of an emergency fund for all workers. EFE

Related Articles

Back to top button