April 23, 2016
Today on April 23, 2016 the seminar titled "Seismic Retrofit and A Step towards Building Safety: The Third Memorial of the 2013 Rana Plaza Incident" was held in Dhaka. The seminar has been organized jointly by JICA and PWD to announce the activities of Technical cooperation project also in commemoration of the Rana Plaza disaster that took place in 2013. The Project titled Promoting Building Safety for Disaster Risk Reduction in the People's Republic of Bangladesh (BSPP) as a part of technical cooperation project between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Bangladesh Office and Public Works Department (PWD). Prof. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, Vice Chancellor, University of Asia Pacific, was present as the Chief Guest. Mr. RahamatUllahMohd. Dastagir, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Mr. Syed AzizulHaq, Additional Chief Engineer of Public Works Department were present in the seminar as Special Guests. And Mr. Hitoshi Ara, Acting Chief Representative of JICA Bangladesh Office, also participated in the Seminar as the Guest of Honor.
Bangladesh is in the seismically active zone because of the Eurasian, Eastern and Indian Plate & three major fault lines. In the last 250 years, Bangladesh has experienced eight major strong ground motion (magnitude over 7.0) therefore possibility of occurring strong earthquake is increasing over the time period. Dhaka is ranked among the 20 cities most vulnerable to earthquakes including the Chittagong and Sylhet. The 22 million inhabitants of these cities are in extremely vulnerable condition. More than 100,000 buildings of these cities may be collapsed in any Moderate or Big earthquake (6.5 to 8.5 magnitudes) and there will be massive loss of lives (approx. 200,000) Source CDMP and JICA experts.
The experts of the project shows that in Dhaka city there are 40% of RC buildings and rest are masonry which are 3-5 times weaker than the buildings of Japan or US. Therefore the earthquake risk has become higher because 115 years has passed since a major earthquake has hit in Bangladesh.
Mr. Hitoshi Ara in his speech mentioned that the activities and output of BSPP needs to be enhanced into the existing methods of construction in Bangladesh and recommends good methods which will drastically reduce the risk. The project needs to emphasize on the public awareness to let them understand the situation and what they needs to do immediately he added. Beside capacity development of public and private engineers is also crucial. He emphasized on the implementation of BNBC in an appropriate manner which can dramatically change the urban resilience scenario of the country.
Prof. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, through his presentation, has pointed out the vulnerabilities that Bangladesh might face in case of an earthquake occurrence in the country or nearby. He recommended that necessary actions must be taken without any delay and retrofitting should be considered as a viable option for facing the earthquake disaster in the country. Mr. RahamatUllahMohd. Dastagir has stated that Ministry of Housing and Public Works has been concentrating more on the RMG sector so that incidences like the Rana plaza disaster do not happen again. Mr. Syed AzizulHaq also mentioned that the retrofitting activities should also be expanded in other sectors along with the RMG sector.