Homes turned to ashes

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No step has been taken towards improving their services despite repeated occurrences

Yet another fire has ravaged a Dhaka slum, leaving thousands of most underprivileged without homes to return to.

Our hearts go out to all those who have not only lost their homes, but their belongings and livelihoods as well, in the fire that blazed across hundreds of shanties in the Rupnagar area in Mirpur.

But how long will we remain content with merely expressing sympathy for the affected?

Even if we do not touch upon the series of fires breaking out in and around Dhaka city in the last year alone, that Rupnagar itself has suffered through three fires in the span of seven months is unacceptable. At least a thousand people were left homeless, along with one reported casualty, in January of this year, while several thousand more homes were destroyed in a fire in August, 2019.

Despite these previous occurrences, both of which were in the greater Rupnagar slum area, it still took around three hours to douse the flames. The difficulty with putting out the flames has been attributed to water shortages and narrow lanes around the slum which made it difficult to access.

This goes to show that not only are the concerned authorities still wholly ill-equipped to be dealing with catastrophes of this scale, but also that no step has been taken towards improving their services despite repeated occurrences.

In the wake of the fire, with no credible investigations or reports about previous tragedies to look back on for support or reassurance, many have taken to speculating if the fire was an act of sabotage. It will not be the first time arson has been used to clear out slums in Bangladesh.

However, since these allegations have been dismissed entirely, it is up to the investigative committee formed by the Fire Service and Civil Defense to deliver on their promise of finding the exact cause of the fire.

We cannot let these disasters become any more commonplace than they already have and holding the right people accountable is a crucial first step.