12:30 AM, April 28, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:21 AM, April 28, 2013

Tragedy exaggerated?

Garment-makers blame media; want punishment to building owners, engineers; silent over factory owners

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Staff Correspondent

The rescue team takes a man -- who was buried under the rubble of Rana Plaza for 103 hours -- to the hospital yesterday. Photo: Amran Hossain The rescue team takes a man -- who was buried under the rubble of Rana Plaza for 103 hours -- to the hospital yesterday. Photo: Amran Hossain

The Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA) yesterday demanded punishment of the owners and engineers of Rana Plaza, which collapsed on Wednesday morning.
“The ones involved in construction work should be punished,” SM Mannan Kochi, vice-president of BGMEA, said at a press briefing following an extra-ordinary general meeting (EGM) called by the BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
In the aftermath of the building collapse that have so far killed 346 and injured 2,429, BGMEA and BKMEA asked all factory owners to check their buildings' structural designs and load capacity immediately and submit a report to the BGMEA, according to Kochi.
“We will cancel the licence should any one fail to submit the report,” he said.
There was, however, no mention of any punishment for the factory owners, who forced the workers back to the production lines despite cracks surfacing on the building the previous day.
A major part of the meeting, it was learnt, involved discussing the role of media, who they blamed for “exaggerating” the Savar tragedy.
The constant uploading of graphic imagery, they claim, has created an “image crisis” for them in the international arena.
The BGMEA did not let journalists inside the EGM, although news of the EGM was advertised in different newspapers.
The media, however, was allowed at the last EGM, held after the Tazreen fire last November.
The leaders of the trade body asked the few journalists who were inside the conference room of BGMEA's office ahead of the meeting, to wait outside for the press briefing.
It was decided in the meeting that all members of BGMEA and BKMEA would contribute at least Tk 25,000 towards a fund for the Savar victims, said Abdus Salam Morshedi, a former president of BGMEA.
The workers of the factories at the collapsed Rana Plaza would be paid their full salary by the first week of May, he added.
Factory owners and workers will jointly form a committee to protect unexpected vandalism in industrial areas and factories, said Kochi.
The garment makers also decided to bring down the electric generators placed at the roof of buildings, he added.

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