Surpassing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, Rana Plaza stands today as the biggest industrial disaster in recorded history with over 1200 deaths and thousands of injured, including hundreds of amputees, thousands of physically disabled, thousands suffering deep mental shocks, and an ever rising death toll succumbing to these injuries. There seems to be no end to these miseries, not even after two full years have passed.
Victims of the Rana Plaza disaster still cry holding the rusted barbed wires twisted across the fences protecting the rubbles that still lay in the epicentre of the carnage site. Compensation did reach most, but it was either less or too less, or even inaccessible.
Most of the 600 injured victims we called to receive an update said that they got a compensation which was inadequate for their medical costs or their living costs. People with difficult family conditions and very serious injuries often ended up receiving less than those with conditions relatively less severe than them. There didn’t seem to be an explanation from any one on these inequalities.
While the mobile phone fund transfer has been a big success to access victims and give them money easily, it has new holes inside it. Many victims complained that they received less money, and some complained that they didn’t receive any. There are still many workers who give their friend’s or family member’s number for the money transfer as their cell phone doesn’t have that technology, or they do not know how to install or operate it, making them susceptible to fraud.
According to the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), BDT1.08 billion of the BDT1.27 billion deposited into the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund following the Rana Plaza building collapse is yet to be disbursed two years after the world’s worst workplace disaster. This fund came from local sources, mainly commercial banks, in light of the disaster specifically for the victims and their families (The Daily Star, 23 April, 2015)
As per the Rana Plaza arrangement fund, US$2.8 million is yet to be accumulated to reach the revised US$30 million target set by the arrangement (it used to be US$ 40 million). However, in this US$ 27.3 million accumulated funds, US$ 4.57 million is only pledged, therefore not liquid (The Rana Plaza Arrangement, 2015). It must be noted that these funds also include all and every small sum given by the brands of any of the related NGOs since the last 2 years, which puts the chances of a decent lump sum handed to the injured workers of the families of deceased workers next to nothing. It has been very slow progress, and certainly, only the brands and their policies are responsible for it. Even the funds till now dispersed reached only a part of the victims, and that too unequal and with fraud committed which the victims claim openly, as also witnessed in the Rana Plaza anniversary where victims wailed their helplessness.
Who is the Criminal Here?
Although initially, the owner of Rana Plaza Mr. Soheil Rana was arrested, and has been denied bail, he still remains without a charge sheet, thus effectively, justice is being denied and he is not yet tried for his crimes.
More than this, the least talked about Spanish Managing Director of Phantom Tec, David Mayer Rico, is still at large. Rico ran away from Dhaka the afternoon after Rana Plaza collapsed, till now no law seem strong enough to prosecute this “buyer class” gentleman. There is no noise from any journalist, any national or international body, whether political or not, against his impunity. A very stark picture of today’s world and its double standards.
Every other criminal involved with the Rana Plaza tragedy have either never been captured, or have been given bail. With visible attempts to forget the Rana Plaza disaster, the administration has downplayed its responsibility, letting the wound be healed by itself – an impossible and dispassionate attempt nonetheless.
Future of Safety
Even after the efforts of the Accord and the Alliance, as well as BUET and the government, safety still is not tested. A huge chunk of Dhaka factories and garment making capacity is still not checked or listed in either local or international lists to be either inspected or documented. Such factories remain at risk and keep being documented by either journalists or once a disaster occurs, by the local Bangladeshi journalists.
Safety for workers comes with a stomach full of meal, and job security at a place from which they can come out alive at the end of a day. This still is something that has not yet been materialised. However, it is everyones dream.
However, till now, this endless tribulations seem to have no logical end. It seems to be that thorn in the throats of the privileged ones at every helm which needs to be swallowed and forgotten. But if forgotten, would this be justice? Without Justice, what is the purpose or meaning of peace … how can peace survive?
The Daily Star, 23 April, 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.thedailystar.net/editorial/why-only-tk-19-crore-disbursed-rana-plaza-victims-78720
Donors, 26 April, 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.ranaplaza-arrangement.org/fund/donors