Bangladesh readymade garment (RMG) industry to improve the compliance and fire safety conditions has decided to make an investment of Tk 80 billion to meet the requirements as being demanded by buyers, brands, labour and human rights organizations after the twin industrial disasters-Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza building collapse.
The sector has been under pressure from local and international stakeholders including Accord, Alliance, foreign buyers and International Labour Organization (ILO). The Accord and Alliance is formed to closely monitor and ensure factory safety in Bangladesh.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), more than 2500 garment owners including woven and knitwear have agreed to make new investment of Tk 80 billion for fulfilling the compliances and fire safety conditions as there is no other alternative.
Vice President of BGMEA Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury said that after the Rana Plaza tragedy and Tazreen Fashion fire incident the compliance issue has become a key one for export. The buyers' first demand is to fulfil compliances in the factory including working environment, wage, fire and disaster safety measures, building codes etc.
Faruque Hassan, Managing Director of Giant Group, a local leading woven garment and knitwear manufacturing company, said that their factory always maintains compliances issue but now they want to make new investment for improving fire safety conditions. They will spend Tk 40 million to install fire safety equipment including fire doors, sprinklers and hydrant pumps for an eight-storied building.
While, Mohammad Hatem, vice-president of BKMEA, said that the issue of fire and building safety including compliance came to the spotlight in 2013, following the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers and Tazreen Fashion fire incident which claimed the lives of 125 workers.
His company is able to meet most of compliances, but he wants to make it a standard one like any countries of the West. They will have to spend more than Tk60 million to install sprinklers for the eight-storied building.
Currently, BKMEA has 1000 running factories and it needs to install sprinklers and fire doors.
Workers' safety system, fire-fighting equipment, evacuation mechanism, proper installation of machines and healthy work environment are among the social compliance issues.
Managing Director of Eastern Apparels Ltd Nasir Uddin Chowdhury has also decided to make new investment of Tk 50 million for setting up fire safety equipment ensuring better working condition at one of its factories.
They have already made investment on compliance. Hopefully, they will provide more facilities to their workers within the stipulated time. The garment makers are now bound to seriously look into the safety issues for their own survival.
According to the BGMEA research cell, nearly 1,857 garment workers have so far died in different tragic accidents from the year 1990 to 2013.
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