EACH one of us across Pakistan is gravely sad over the Lahore and Karachi fire incidents. The loss is irreparable.
Each one of us is responsible for this colossal loss of lives. First let me highlight another important aspect, as to what did we learn in the past, when there happened a similar incident at Ghakkarr Plaza, Rawalpindi.
What did we do when in Lahore, this year only, there was a big boiler blast that took the lives of more than two dozen people?
Did we change our attitudes when there were big fires in the Liberty Market of Lahore in two to three big department stores?
Did we ever ask the buildings departments in Lahore, Karachi, Rawapindi, etc, to check the plans of the buildings, the quality of construction, and finally if the completion of the building is in accordance with the approved plan, and in which all the bye-laws, rules and regulations have been strictly adhered to?
Keeping aside the above, on which numerous more examples could be quoted, with bits and pieces, on the quality of materials used, i.e., cables, wires, electrical fittings, etc., more importantly the layout/plan for which the building is being used, i.e., its appropriateness for the purpose it was planned.
We need to find out if precautionary measures were also taken to ensure provision of emergency exits, fire-fighting gadgets, training to workers to combat emergencies, provision of doctors, paramedics and emergency medicines/ first-aid kits, specially if there are more than 15 to 20 workers.
Further, we need to find out if precautionary steps also included provision of professional kits and uniforms, specially if use of inflammable and other dangerous chemicals and materials is anticipated, etc.
Now, let’s come back to the point as to why we all are responsible for the incidents. We are, I repeat we are responsible, because we did not learn from the past. We did not try to learn, unfortunately. This is the main responsibility, ie our own.
We are also responsible, because: we let the illegal construction go on in our own neighbourhood; we ourselves ‘plan’ and construct the buildings without a proper plan, in which our intention is to complete the construction in the least possible time involving minimum possible funds; we don't let the authorities visit our premises, with the fear that our illegalities and our building violations will be noticed; we, as authority/ government, close our eyes so that we don’t see the violations.
We also expect rewards on this attitude. We, as political- government, close our eyes just to ensure we keep on getting funds for the next elections.
We don't report illegal commercial or industrial activity in our neighbourhood, because we are scared to report or indifferent to the situation. We are not sensible or sensitive enough to ascertain the adverse effects of the misuse of residential area.
So we are again responsible as a common man. We are responsible as government if we did not notice the need for proper equipment for our fire-fighting brigade.
We are responsible as MNA or MPA, if we did not do proper legislation to ensure safety of workers and the work place.
We are responsible as owners of factories if we also did not arrange for a safe workplace.
The government as a whole, as a system, is responsible as it could not ensure proper supply of electricity, which made the factory go for unsafe mode of power supply, i.e., generators, which malfunctioned and most probably caused accidents.
Let's forget, for a while, who is responsible. Let's try to focus what are the reasons. Let's take it as a lesson so that none of us will repeat the mistake, as owner, as worker, as legislator, as government and as an observer. Ih dinas siratal mustaqeem. Ameen.
MUMTAZ AHMED Lahore
ALL existing industries should be re-visited properly by relevant authorities and all security and safety measures should be ensured.
Legislation should be done for the welfare of working people in which life insurance of all workers should be made mandatory for all industries. Workers should be allowed to form trade unions where they can raise their concern and get their work recognised.
ABDULLAH DAYO Islamabad
THERE is no degree course on safety engineering offered in any university in Pakistan and I wonder how safety inspectors and safety personnel could be produced without a degree in safety engineering.
After visiting several factories I found that safety majors in several factories hardly matter and safety certificates are issued in exchange for money and gifts which is an example of corruption at the grassroots level. I ask the authorities the following questions:
When was the last clearance for security issued to the garment factory and by whom?
Who were the persons who visited the factory for security check?
When were the equipment like fire-extinguisher, washing fountain, sirens, and sensors for fire last checked?
What was the checklist of the security majors and this should made public?
What was the assessment of the safety evaluation team, which should be publicly disclosed?
The persons who were found guilty of the breach of basic security majors given above should be prosecuted and the Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary should use his powers to identify the persons responsible for such a national disaster.
This is an eye-opener for other factories and the government of Sindh. Influential people are hardly punished in Pakistan but I hope this time an exception can be made. With my experience in Aramco, Saudi Arabia, I will be happy and render any services free of charge if asked by the governor.
Fortunately, I am in Pakistan these days. I hope this matter would not be hushed up by routine announcements of compensation to the families as is the usual government practice to hush up the matter. There should be a solution for the future.