Rab Director General Benazir Ahmed yesterday said drives against chemical warehouses in Old Dhaka will go on, but it will be ensured that no businessperson is affected unjustly by the raids.
“Our intention is not to put businesspersons in a difficult situation,” Benazir said at the views-exchange meeting in the city after a business leader demanded immediate stop to ongoing drives by the taskforce.
Rab-10 organised the programme with businesspersons of Old Dhaka regarding relocation of chemical, plastic and other flammable objects from residential area of the old part of the city.
Terming chemical factories “ticking time bombs”, the Rab DG said, “We do not want to see a third incident like Nimtoli and Chawkbazar fire incidents.”
He thanked businessmen who have already relocated their chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka, but said those are being stored in other residential places to avoid drives, posing risk in those areas.
Benazir urged the authorities concerned to arrange a place for safe relocation of the flammable objects.
The issue of relocation of chemical warehouses came to forefront once again after the February 20 inferno in Chawkbazar that claimed the lives of 71 people.
The fire -- that originated from a perfume factory on Haji Wahed Mansion -- forced the authorities to form a taskforce comprising 14 government agencies, to carry out drives. A section of traders had been protesting and creating obstacles to a number of drives.
At yesterday's programme, President of Dhaka South City Businessperson Oikya Parishad Abdus Salam demanded that the taskforce discontinue its drives in Old Dhaka.
“We are requesting to stop the drives of taskforce… Businesspersons live in constant fear,” he said just before the Rab DG's speech.
He claimed that traders of Old Dhaka have already relocated the 35 chemical items listed as highly flammable.
Dhaka South City Corporation Chief Executive Officer Mostafizur Rahman said businessmen have to be aware, and their warehouses have to be relocated to stop recurrence of incidents like Chawkbazar.
Top Rab officials and leaders of different business associations in Old Dhaka were also present at the programme.