Dhaka’s restaurant-laden skyline lacks fire safety


Dhaka, the vibrant and bustling metropolis of Bangladesh, boasts a skyline punctuated by towering skyscrapers, each housing a plethora of restaurants that cater to the diverse palates of its populace. Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, these establishments offer a tantalizing array of culinary delights, drawing in throngs of eager patrons seeking gastronomic adventures. Yet, lurking behind this façade of culinary excellence looms a sobering truth—a pervasive and alarming absence of adequate fire safety measures. This deficiency poses a grave threat to the safety and well-being of both diners and residents alike, casting a shadow over the city’s bustling restaurant scene.

In recent investigations have uncovered a troubling reality: multiple multi-storey buildings throughout Dhaka, spanning prominent areas such as Dhanmondi, Gulshan, Banani, Mirpur, Jatrabari, Khilgaon, and Uttara, have been transformed into bustling dining destinations, lacking essential provisions for emergency exits and fire-fighting systems. This alarming revelation paints a dire picture, as the risks associated with overcrowding, inadequate ventilation, and the unsafe utilization of gas cylinders within restaurant kitchens continue to escalate unchecked. The safety and well-being of patrons and residents alike hang precariously in the balance amidst this concerning trend.

Consider the Imperial Amin Ahmed Centre in Dhanmondi, a towering structure housing an impressive array of 19 restaurants sprawled across its 13 floors. Shockingly, this bustling hub of culinary activity is devoid of fundamental fire safety infrastructure, glaringly lacking emergency exits and sprinkler systems. This hazardous oversight leaves both patrons and staff exposed to grave risks in the event of potential disasters, highlighting a critical lapse in safety standards within the premises.

Likewise, the Gausia Twin Peck building situated on Sat Masjid Road, within the bustling district of Dhanmondi, accommodates a staggering total of 20 restaurants amidst glaring security lapses. Despite numerous warnings and concerns raised by authorities regarding the precarious situation, the building management has maintained a stance of indifference. Shockingly, they deny the existence of restaurants within their premises altogether, disregarding the urgent need for implementing vital safety measures. This negligent attitude not only jeopardizes the safety of patrons and staff but also underscores a concerning lack of accountability and responsibility on the part of those entrusted with ensuring the well-being of occupants within the establishment.

In the prestigious neighborhoods of Gulshan and Banani, even renowned establishments like Sultan Dine are operating within residential buildings, flouting critical fire safety protocols. Despite the evident dangers posed by the presence of gas cylinders and the potential for overcrowding, regulatory authorities have failed to take assertive action. Rather than proactively enforcing necessary safety measures, they have chosen a reactive stance, responding only after accidents have already occurred. This alarming negligence not only jeopardizes the safety of patrons and staff but also exposes a concerning lack of oversight within regulatory agencies.

The aftermath of the devastating FR Tower fire in Banani serves as a poignant reminder of the catastrophic consequences of neglecting fire safety measures. Despite this sobering lesson, neighboring establishments persist in operating without the necessary precautions in place. Take, for example, the 18th-floor hawkers plaza adjacent to FR Tower, where the absence of basic fire-fighting equipment poses a significant risk. Restaurants like Tulip further compound the danger by utilizing gas cylinders without proper safeguards, endangering both patrons and staff alike. This reckless disregard for safety underscores the urgent need for stringent enforcement of fire safety regulations to prevent future tragedies from occurring in these vulnerable areas.

In Mirpur, numerous restaurants encircling Sony Cinema Hall operate without essential fire-fighting equipment, heightening risks due to the absence of lifts in multi-storey buildings. This worrisome scenario is mirrored in areas such as Jatrabari, Khilgaon, and Uttara, where an influx of restaurants is accommodated within buildings ill-equipped to handle fire emergencies. Here, gas cylinders are precariously positioned near kitchen stoves, while ventilation systems fall short of meeting safety standards. This glaring lack of safety measures underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reforms to ensure the protection of patrons and residents alike in these bustling neighborhoods.

In response to the escalating concerns regarding fire safety hazards, regulatory bodies such as the Capital Development Authority (RAJUK) and the Fire Service have pledged to take decisive action against non-compliant establishments. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, these agencies have vowed to intensify inspections and enforce stringent regulations to ensure that buildings adhere to prescribed safety standards. However, the responsibility for ensuring the safety of occupants does not solely rest with regulatory authorities. Building owners and restaurant operators must also play a proactive role by prioritizing safety measures within their premises. This includes the installation of emergency exits, sprinkler systems, and proper ventilation to mitigate the risk of fire incidents and safeguard the lives of patrons and staff.

As Dhaka’s skyline continues to evolve with the burgeoning restaurant scene, the paramount importance of prioritizing safety cannot be emphasized enough. Comprehensive fire safety regulations must be rigorously enforced to address the pressing concerns surrounding inadequate safety measures in multi-storey buildings housing restaurants. Only through collaborative efforts between regulatory bodies, building owners, and restaurant operators can we effectively mitigate the risks and avert potential tragedies, ensuring the well-being of all residents and visitors who frequent the vibrant culinary landscape of the city.


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