Govt to inspect 500 unlicensed RMG units
The government will inspect at least 500 unlicensed garment factories in next two weeks to check their fire safety measures and compliances, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian said yesterday.
â€œWe will trace 450 to 500 garment factories, who are noncompliant or not the members of any trade body or have no fire safety measures,â€ Sufian said.
She spoke at a meeting with the leaders of two garment trade bodies and other government high-ups in the secretariat in Dhaka.
The minister called the meeting to discuss the latest situation in the garment sector after seven workers died at an unlicensed garment factory, Smart Export Garment Ltd, at Mohammadpur in the capital on Saturday.
Two months ago, another fire at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia killed at least 112 workers.
â€œWe will bring them to book so that they do business following the rules,â€ Sufian said.
The minister also said her ministry will request the Bangladesh Bank to relax rules in releasing funds meant for making dormitories for the garment workers.
The existing rules allow only non-government organisations to borrow from the BB fund at low interest rates to construct such dormitories.
â€œI will request the central bank so that the garment trade bodies are also allowed to get the funds," the minister said.
Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, acting president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said they will compensate the relatives of the deceased workers at Smart Export Garment although the factory is not registered with the association.
Chowdhury said the taskforce formed by the BGMEA in December after the Tazreen incident will again start factory inspection soon.
Though the BGMEA taskforce was supposed to inspect all its member factories, they have so far visited only four.
â€œWe have a plan to inspect six more factories soon,â€ he said.
Some of the taskforce members are staying abroad and so the taskforce is not working now, Chowdhury added.
AKM Salim Osman, president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, also promised to give one month's salary and Tk 1 lakh each to the families of the deceased workers at the Smart Export Garment by tomorrow.
He urged the minister not to cancel the trade licences of the unlicensed factories, as they are also contributing to exports.
The government should give the factories a deadline to be compliant and strengthen their fire safety measures, Osman said. Meanwhile, a probe committee formed by the government's fire service department sent letters to the owners of Smart Export Garment, asking them to appear before the panel.
As the committee could not find the owners, it left the letter with the caretaker of the factory, said Bharat Chandra Biswas, head of the probe committee and deputy director of Fire Service and Civil Defence.
â€œWe have to complete our entire investigation within seven working days,â€ said Biswas, on the second day of the probe. The committee has already visited the site and taken statements from the eyewitnesses, he said.
Chowdhury Manjurul Karim, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Tejgaon zone), said no arrests were made so far, but their efforts were going on.
He said they also formed a two-member committee on Sunday to conduct an investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, a demonstration by workers and labour leaders took place in front of the factory premises yesterday morning, but it was dispersed by the police within five minutes. The workers later headed towards the BGMEA building to participate in a protest.