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Bangladesh: Deadly fire shows lapses in development

Author: Associated Press (AP), DAWN, Pakistan, Published on: 24 February 2019

"Deadly Bangladesh fire shows lapses in development", 25 February 2019

A fire in Bangladesh that killed at least 67 people in the oldest part of the capital shows the lapses in public safety that still plague the South Asian country despite its rapid economic growth. 

While the government...touts the garment factories and gleaming office towers in Dhaka’s north side as signs of progress, illegal shops and overcrowding in Chawkbazar [a southern district]...impeded firefighters’ ability to put out Wednesday [20 February] night’s blaze, illustrating the country’s uneven development.

The government has zoning laws and regulations on the books, but has met public resistance when it tried to enforce them...Business owners in old Dhaka routinely bribe government employees responsible for building oversight..

After a warehouse storing flammable material caught fire in 2010...near Chawkbazar, killing at least 123 people, authorities promised to bring the area into compliance with building codes, and evict chemical warehouses from buildings where people lived...In 2014, three people were killed and three others severely burned when a perfume warehouse...in Chawkbazar caught fire. The following year, a fire gutted eight plastic factories.

[The Prime Minister] said government regulations are sufficient, but are routinely flouted in Chawkbazar...It was not clear whether the death toll from Wednesday’s blaze would affect the status quo in Dhaka...

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