AFTER the Baldia factory fire tragedy, every other day there is news that fire erupted in some other factory in the Site area. Whenever there is such news, one recalls terrible scenes.
Beside this, certain questions come to mind such as in the future what will happen in case of a fire in any factory as we do not have trained fire brigade. Ill-trained staff is dangerous as more lives will be at stake. When fire breaks out, it spreads very fast and workers having no knowledge and experience are vulnerable. Appointment of political workers in this sensitive department is a big question.
The civil defence is another department which is in a pathetic condition. No one from this department comes to inspect factories. Inspectors responsible for this job do not perform their duties. They should check fire extinguishers installed in factories. Firefighting rehearsals should be performed periodically.
But it would be possible only when high-ups of this department feel that this is their primary responsibility.
Labour inspectors should fulfil responsibilities of their their duties regularly. They should check what kind of facilities and benefits are available. If there are no facilities, they should try to improve the conditions and make sure that laws are implemented.
The Sindh Employees Social Security Institution officials should also learn a lesson after this incident. They should also come into the field to check how many workers are registered with them.
The social security is certainly a good scheme for workers, but it should be enforced in letter and in spirit. Officers concerned should make sure about proper registration of workers. Many survivors and their dependents are still waiting to get compensation and insurance amount. All these dues should be cleared as soon as possible.
The Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution is also responsible for same kind of benefits. EOBI officials should also come out of their airconditioned offices to make sure poor workers are enrolled with them. In case of such tragedy, they should help survivors and dependents. Poor performance of the EOBI in this case is just one example of their apathy.
Many of Baldia factory survivors are now complaining that they are facing hardships. Their sole earning members have gone and they are struggling financially. Even a few of them are now dependent on social welfare organisations for food. For them, it is more important to get money for their livelihood.
The publication of advertisements of the SESSI and the EOBI are totally meaningless. Both these organisations should do something practically.
Last but not least, in case of death due to burns where bodies could not be recognised, medical experts should take help from certain technical aspects. The DNA test is useful in such cases. Unfortunately, we do not have facilities available in our city. This should be made available here as soon as possible.
At present, many families are still waiting for the identification of bodies of their loved ones. It is very traumatic for them to wait for such a long time.
We usually do not learn from our past. It is time now to correct ourselves and prove this wrong. But for this, strong willpower is needed. Hopefully, the authorities concerned will pay attention to these issues immediately.
In the future, in case of such a tragedy, people should not suffer because of the poor performance of these government-run departments.
Dr ALFRED CHARLES Karachi