Responsibility after tragedy... By Alfred
11 October, 2012
After the Baldia factory fire tragedy one cannot help but wonder what will happen in case of a fire in any other factory in the future. In Pakistan, we have fire brigade staff that is not trained enough to effectively tackle large fires. The appointment of political workers to administrative positions in this sensitive department is a matter that needs urgent looking into. The civil defence department also lies in pathetic condition with no one from there coming in to inspect the factories. Inspectors do not perform their duties of checking fire extinguishers and fire drills to be performed. Only when higher ups make the lives of factory workers their prime responsibility will we see a change.
Inspectors from the labour department should check if necessary facilities and benefits are available. If not, they should use the prevailing laws to make sure standards are implemented. Officials from the Sindh Employees' Social Security Institution (SESSI) should also learn a lesson after this incident by coming out in the field to check how many workers are registered with them. Many survivors and their dependents are still waiting to get compensation and insurance. All these dues should be cleared as soon as possible. Another organisation, the Employees' Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) is also responsible for the same kind of benefits. EOBI officials should step out of their air-conditioned offices to make sure poor labourers are enrolled with them. Many of the Baldia factory survivors are now facing hardships. Their sole earning members have gone and a few are now dependent on social welfare organisations to get food. For them, the routine publication of advertisements promoting the SESSI and EOBI are totally meaningless.
Last, but not least, in case of deaths due to burns where dead bodies cannot be recognised, medical experts should obtain assistance from certain technical advancements. DNA testing is a useful tool in such cases. Unfortunately, we do not have this facility available in our city and therefore efforts should be made to make it available immediately. I really hope the concerned authorities will pay attention to these issues on an urgent basis. In case of a tragedy, people should not have to suffer needlessly because of the poor performance of these government-run departments.
DR ALFRED CHARLES