Savar, Bangladesh, April 24 (efe-epa).– Families of victims, survivors and trade union activists on Wednesday marked the sixth anniversary of a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,130 workers, demanding justice and compensation.
On April 24, 2013, a nine-storey factory complex, called Rana Plaza, in the sub-district of Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka, crashed to the ground in a matter of seconds, marking the worst catastrophe in the history of the textile sector in Bangladesh.
Around 2,500 people were also injured when the poorly-built factory complex collapsed.
“I want justice for the killing of my daughter. I want the hanging of Rana and all others responsible,” said Phool Mala, as she wailed near a monument at the place where the Rana Plaza building once stood.
Mala’s daughter Maleka Akter was a worker at the Ether Tex garments factory located on the 6th floor of the complex.
“We found her body three days after the collapse. She was just 18 then,” said Mala.
The trial concerning the Rana Plaza tragedy had its first hearing Sept. 18, 2016 and has since then been repeatedly postponed on different procedural grounds, according to Abul Mannan, the prosecutor in Dhaka.
Among the 41 defendants, only Sohel Rana, the owner of Rana the Plaza building, is currently in prison, serving a three-year prison sentence imposed in 2017 year for having illegal wealth.
The relatives remembered the day in pain and anguish as they await justice six years since the tragedy hit them.
Looking at the gap where the Rana Plaza once stood, which is today covered with hyacinths, tears rolled down the face of Abul Kashem, who was remembering his missing daughter Nazma Akter.
“We looked for her body many days after the incident but did not get it. The authorities took my DNA sample but it also did not match with any unidentified body,” said Kashem, a mason's helper by profession.
“She was not willing to work on that day as she knew the building had developed cracks. But the factory managers forced her to work,” he said.
Dakhela Begum, mother of survivor Mohammad Suman, said she came to the place to comfort her as the tragedy ruined their entire family.
“My son came out unhurt on the same day the building collapsed. Then he joined the rescue act searching for the bodies of his friends and colleagues. A few days later he lost his mental balance,” she said.
“His wife left him. I came here after putting him in shackles,” added Begum.
A survey by non-profit Action Aid Bangladesh last week revealed that 51 percent survivors of Rana Plaza tragedy were still unable to work due to physical and mental trauma.
Joly Talukder, the general secretary of Garment Workers Trade Union Centre, said clothing factory owners have plenty of responsibilities to ensure justice and proper compensation for Rana Plaza victims and safety in other factories.
“Our garment owners always prefer profit over safety. Six years after Raza Plaza, all factories should have been safe for workers. But it’s not the case as yet,” she said.