From the tragic story of Bangladesh building collapse which some considered as one of the worst “industrial disaster” in contemporary times, there emerged an exceptionally incredible survival story of Reshama, a women who is found alive from the rubbles seventeen days after building was collapsed, and a life lesson.
Story of the collapse itself, and the damage it caused sounds like it was caused by an earthquake of higher magnitude rather than due to collapse of a single low rise building. Well over thousand people are reported to have died and those rescued are still in a hospital. The tragedy had many wonder as to how that could happen.
For an engineer, it may simply mean a terrible engineering failure, perhaps related to lack of adequate engineering knowledge/skills or perhaps related to ethical issue or negligence or both. Or something that transcends all these.
From administrative perspective, it may mean a grave inaction on the part of regulatory bodies. Apparently, a crack and safety concern about the building was reported to appropriate authorities well before the collapse. When a safety concern related to thousands of lives is reported, it only takes common sense to think as to what inaction could cause. Had concerned regulatory bodies acted tough, they could have averted a disaster the likes of which we have not heard about in our time. In view of what looks like complacency about construction boom in the developing part of the world, authorities in other parts of the world should draw from Bangladesh to avoid another possible tragic accident of similar nature.
That said, of course, a cry for justice haunts all those who are part of the cause for the accident directly and indirectly. Was it simply a case of disingenuous negligence on the part of the authorities, or something sinister and deliberate profit-oriented inaction/action in order not to interrupt production process due to possible closure of the building? It is a question that is not affordable to ignore.
Political activists, specifically those who champion the cause of the urban poor and the working class need to pursue the matter aggressively. Indeed, it is very saddening to think that exploiting cheap labour in developing countries is not enough and that workers have to pay in life for “economic growth.”
It has to be noted that after a disaster of this magnitude in which the owner played a significant part, the owner did try to flee to India instead of turning himself, remorsefully, to authorities. I wonder what he could have done in India had his attempt to escape succeeded.
While not forgetting the industrial relation aspect of the tragedy, while not forgetting the need to reinvigorate labour unions and transform them to strong and assertive ones, and while not forgetting the humanitarian side of the disaster ; of those who lost a daughter, a son, a husband or a wife in the disaster and the agony they went through, and while not forgetting about necessary institutional arrangements to prevent accident of this nature and magnitude in the future, Reshma emerged as a cause for celebration and reflection. [next page]