April 17, 2014
Chief Guest, Mr. Md. Golam Rabbani, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Public Works;
Special Guest, Mr. Md. Kabir Ahmed Bhuiyan, Chief Engineer, Public Works Department;
Chairperson, Mr. Md. Ahsanul Haque Khan, Chief Architect, Department of Architecture;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Assalam alaikum and good afternoon
First, I would like to express my condolences to as many as 1,132 people who lost their precious lives in the Rana Plaza incident on April 24, 2013 and offer my heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved families as well.
In order not to repeat such a tragic accident, JICA has been collaborating with the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Bangladesh Bank, BGMEA and BKMEA to improve working environment of Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector through its technical and financial cooperation.
Out of over 300 garment factories which applied for our support, the team consisted of PWD engineers and JICA experts has conducted design level assessment of 55 factories which submitted designs and drawings of their buildings. The team has also conducted not just a visual inspection but a detailed seismic assessment based on various technical data which is the first initiative of its kind in Bangladesh.
Simultaneously, JICA and Bangladesh Bank has agreed to finance the ensuing retrofitting and relocation works of RMG factories by earmarking 100 crore taka out of an on-going financial sector loan already committed by JICA to Bangladesh Bank. This financial support mechanism is also the first initiative in Bangladesh.
Our support is not limited to the garment industry. JICA is assisting capacity development of more than 80 PWD engineers for anti-seismic design, seismic assessment and retrofitting method for safer buildings. JICA project is also drawing up manuals for design, assessment and construction all in conformity with BNBC, Bangladesh National Building Code, so that Bangladeshi engineers will effectively comply with the sole standard for building construction in this country.
However, no matter how obedient designs are to BNBC and no matter how superior construction techniques are, no building can be solidly constructed without fine and safe working conditions. Harsh environment of construction sites can spoil outputs of design and construction works. Moreover, it is regrettable that many workers who hardly wear helmets, safety belts or safety shoes get injured or even die at construction sites in Bangladesh every year. Safety equipment is not expensive as compared to construction cost as a whole. I should say it is just a matter of awareness.
Considering the pressing issue of poor working conditions, it is a great pleasure for me to attend the Helmet handover ceremony today. I would like to thank Sekisui House, a renowned construction company in Japan, for its kindness to present this many helmets. I would also like to express my respect to Mr. Yoichiro Kono, Architect dispatched as JICA Volunteer, and his colleagues in the Department of Architecture for their strenuous efforts to pave the way for such an essential seminar.
I hope today's seminar will be a good start to raise awareness of working conditions of construction sites and improve the environment in Bangladesh.
Dhonnobad. Thank you.