WITH every calamity that occurs in a factory it exposes the woeful state of the government agencies entrusted to exercise oversight on it in terms of its operational fitness, particularly its safety standards.
We are not surprised at a recent report in this newspaper which says that the government department which has been assigned the responsibility of ensuring that the safety standards of all the nearly two hundred thousand factories in the country were up to scratch, exists in name only. It can't be anything else, given that the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment is pathetically understaffed. 51 inspectors for so many factories spread all over the country is nothing but a farce; and even with the 52 approved posts that remain to be filled up the department would not be able to do its job.
But in this context, particularly after the manmade Rana Plaza disaster, we are compelled to pose several questions to the concerned authorities. Have they ever pondered why almost all the major industrial accidents have involved RMG factories? And why almost all the recent RMG factory disasters have occurred in Dhaka and Ashulia areas only? Why is it that there has not been a single major accident in any garment factory in Chittagong? What is it that the people concerned in Chittagong are doing right that the people in Dhaka are not? Answering these questions does not need manpower but brain power.
We are given to understand that the BGMEA had arrogated to itself the responsibility of conducting a thorough inspection of all the 5000 or so factories registered under it. And this is repeated every time a RMG factory is afflicted. Unfortunately, the situation remains unchanged.
We are constrained to suggest that the BGMEA has failed in its task of ensuring safety of the garment workers, department of inspection or not. Any organisation, particularly as large as the BGMEA, with a modicum of integrity, would not have allowed five garment factories to operate in one single and flimsy building.