BGMEA smells 'foul play'
Garment makers yesterday urged the government to open a probe into the possibility of sabotage in the nation's worst factory fire.
â€œThe recent fires might be acts of sabotage. The government should look into it,â€ Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said in a hurriedly-called press conference at the trade body office.
The police picked up two people on Sunday who were trying to set fire to Debonia Fashion Ltd, a garment factory, Mohiuddin said. The same day, the fire ripped through three garment factories housed in one building in Uttara, he said.
â€œWe also found matchsticks at Babylon Garment. I believe it is happening to create instability in the garment industry,â€ Mohiuddin said.
A vested interest group from home and abroad might hatch a conspiracy to destabilise the economy, he added.
The allegation came ahead of the three-day Batexpo that begins on December 12 where some 40 brands will participate.
â€œAt this stage, it is not impossible to plot a conspiracy against the readymade garment industry at local and international levels," Mohiuddin said.
This is a common phenomenon for Bangladesh. While a big fire incident or labour unrest occurred in the garment sector, apparel makers alleged conspiracy and, sometimes, the government labelled the incidents as acts of sabotage.
BGMEA and BKMEA jointly announced a one-day shutdown at all ready-made garment factories across the country on Tuesday in memory of the people killed in Saturday's factory fire in Ashulia and flyover collapse in Chittagong.
The BGMEA chief said Tazreen Fashion Ltd at Nischintapur on the capital's suburb Ashulia is a compliant factory and had necessary fire-fighting equipment.
The fire spread very rapidly at the factory due to the presence of petro-chemical that created huge black fumes, thus creating obstacles for workers to find exit gates, said Mohiuddin.
He admitted some supervisors of Tazreen Fashion Ltd had misled the factory workers during the fire.
â€œWe came to know that workers were trying to exit factory floors while the fire alarm set off at the factory. But some supervisors misled them by terming it as a fire drill,â€ said Mohiuddin.
â€œSo we have to find these supervisors immediately through proper investigation,â€ he added.
The BGMEA president said they are shocked at the devastating fire and already set up a four-member committee to investigate the matter.
Mohiuddin said BGMEA and international brands are relentlessly working to prevent fire incidents at factories through building awareness. He said BGMEA made two films focusing on how to avoid fire and minimise losses during fire accidents.
Bangladesh has witnessed 214 fire incidents at 25 garment factories since 1990 that killed 388 people, according to BGMEA.