Fire hazard in city markets: No lesson learnt

Even after multiple fire incidents at Dhaka markets, authorities yet to take necessary measures
Iron rods hanging precariously from what once used to be a ceiling, protruding wires and a fan barely tied to a rod above -- this is the condition of the kitchen market in New Market. Hundreds of people use this entrance every day to visit the market, risking their lives. Photo: Rashed Shumon

When one enters the building of Sharif Market on Chittaranjan Avenue in Sadarghat, there is a feeling of suffocation, despite the empty spaces between the eight-storey building. The building has been identified as risky in terms of fire safety. However, it only has nine fire extinguishers.

During a visit to the market, this correspondent found goods lying in its corridors, creating obstacles for smooth movement. Even the staircases were blocked by products.

However, this is not an isolated picture. Condition of most markets in the capital is similar, as the market authorities pay little to no attention when it comes to ensuring fire safety.

The fire service conducted a survey this year till April 15 on 58 markets in Dhaka and found nine of those to be extremely risky in terms of fire incidents.

Fourteen others were found moderately risky, while the remaining 35 have been labelled as risky.

Among the nine, several markets, including Rajdhani Super Market at Tikatuli and Barishal Plaza Market at Fulbaria, have increased the number of their fire extinguishers significantly. However, the installation of other fire-fighting equipment is still a far cry.

During recent visits to the markets labelled as extremely risky, the authorities' negligence in terms of ensuring fire safety was evident.

The nine highly risky markets include Gausia Market, Barishal Plaza Market, Rajdhani and New Rajdhani Supermarket, Alauddin Market, Shakil Anwar Tower, Sharif Market, Maya Katara, Shahidullah Market and Rosenil Vista.

Among the nine, several markets, including Rajdhani Super Market at Tikatuli and Barishal Plaza Market at Fulbaria, have increased the number of their fire extinguishers significantly. However, the installation of other fire-fighting equipment is still a far cry.

On April 15, Dhaka New Supper Market saw a massive fire which damaged at least 250 shops. The market authorities seem reluctant to improve their safety measures even after the incident.

This area at Gausia market houses multiple buildings with no space between them while all the sides remain blocked.

An electric short circuit might have caused the fire at Dhaka New Super Market, according to the investigators.

During a visit to the market on May 5, only two fire extinguishers were found on the three floors of the market. No other fire-fighting equipment was found.

The corridors and spaces in front of the shops were occupied with goods even though free spaces are an important factor to ensure fire safety.

The situation was similar at all the other adjoining markets, such as Chandrima Supper Market and Chandni Chowk.

Only around 10 fire extinguishers and 10 empty buckets were found at the Chandrima Super Market, which is only around 30 to 50 feet away from the fire-ravaged Dhaka New Super Market.

At the two-storey Shahidullah Market in Chawkbazar's Urdu Road, only two fire extinguishers were found. However, both expired three years ago, on March 20, 2020.

On the other hand, the Chandi Chawk Market has 17 fire extinguishers. Even those that have a sufficient number of fire extinguishers lack trained staffers to operate them. They mostly depend on the security guards to operate them.

Staircase of this market in Old Dhaka’s Siddik Bazar often remains occupied, making it difficult for people to walk.

Only three security guards were found trained to use fire extinguishers at Siddique Bazar's Rosenil Vista Market, which has 12 fire extinguishers for its multi-storey building. The first two floors of the building house shops while the next three floors warehouse.

Earlier in 2017, the Fire Service and Civil Defence surveyed 1,300 markets in the capital and found all the markets, except five, risky in terms of fire incidents.

Among those, 622 were found extremely risky, while 678 were found risky.

Kazi Abul Khayer, member secretary of Dhaka New Super Market Dokan Malik Samity, said they will set up a hose reel and implement the Fire Service Department's instructions.

Asked why only two fire extinguishers were found at their market, he said they have 60 fire extinguishers, which they have kept in the Samity's office room.

Manzur Ahmed, president of Chandrima Super Market Shop Owners Association, said they are waiting for the recommendations of the Fire Service Department and will take necessary steps following their advice.

A narrow staircase at Gausia market without any fire safety equipment.

"We have already started increasing the capacity of water in our reservoir and trained our security guards to deal with fire incidents," he said.

He also said most of their fire extinguishers have been sent to be refilled and have around 40 fire extinguishers in their stock.

Contacted, Lt Col Mohammad Tajul Islam Chowdhury, director (operation and maintenance) of the Fire Service Department, said fire safety measures depend on the building and its occupancy load.

"We notify the authorities concerned to take action in this regard. We plan to do it again," he said.

"We will provide recommendations such as drafting safety plans and implementing them properly when we conduct our visits. No further recommendations are needed. We will resume our visits shortly after involving different agents, such as Rajuk, the city corporations, Wasa, NSI and DGFI," he added.


৬ ঘণ্টা আগে|শিক্ষা

‘চলমান মেগা প্রকল্পগুলো শেষ হলে, শিক্ষাখাতে মেগাপ্রকল্প শুরু করা যাবে’

শিক্ষামন্ত্রী দীপু মনি বলেছেন, 'আমাদের যে মেগা প্রকল্পগুলো চলছে, সেগুলোর কাজ শেষ হলে আমি বিশ্বাস করি শিক্ষাখাতে মেগা প্রকল্পের কাজ শুরু করা যাবে। শিক্ষাই হবে আমাদের মেগাপ্রজেক্ট।'