Firefighting, Legal

Bangladesh Factory Lost Fire Clearance Before Fire

The factory where 112 garment workers died in a fire should have been shut down months ago, reports the Associated Press.

The Fire Department refused to renew the certification it needed to operate, a top fire official said. And its owner revealed that just three of the factory’s eight floors were legal. He was building a ninth.

Government officials knew of the problems, but the factory kept running.

The Capital Development Authority could have fined Tazreen Fashions Ltd. or even pushed for the demolition of illegally built portions of the building, said an agency official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the news media. But it chose to do nothing, rather than confront one of Bangladesh’s most powerful industries, he said.

Bangladesh’s $20 billion-a-year garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the country’s total export earnings, goes virtually unchallenged by the government, said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, a labor rights group.

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