Tampaco Foils Fire Incident at Gazipur
On September 10, 2016, a total of 40 workers and three pedestrians were killed in a fire and explosion in a packaging factory named Tampaco Foils in Tongi BSCIC industrial town of Gazipur. Besides, 40 people were injured. In this incident, 7 workers body didn’t found and many workers houses were damaged.
On 10 September 2016, Saturday at 6am, a packaging factory named Tampaco Foils in Tongi BSCIC industrial town of Gazipur was under fire. After an explosion in the factory, the ceiling and walls of the factory collapsed. Apart from being burned, the structure of the building collapsed and 24 people, including two pedestrians, were killed at the moment.
Initially fire service and civil defense started rescue operation. The fire service is disrupted due to insufficient internal information about the Tampaco building. Gazipur Fire Service Deputy Assistant Director Akhtaruzzaman said that 15 units of Gazipur fire service took part in the rescue operation. On September 11, 2016, Sunday at 9pm, army personnel led by Lieutenant Colonel Shafiul Azam came to the scene to make the reiki. Since then the army supervised the rescue work.
The investigation committee
After the incident, four separate investigation committees were formed from the district administration, the fire service, DIFE and the Ministry of Labor and Employment.
Besides, Titas Gas Distribution Company constituted committee to investigate whether the gas leak was responsible for the blaze in the fire incident in Tampaco Foils. Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited Managing Director (MD) Engineer Mir Moshiur Rahman said that three-member inquiry committee was formed after five days of the incident. Rita Akbar Haideri, general manager (marketing) of Dhaka Metropolitan North, Titas, was made the head of the committee. Dhaka Metro-4 Deputy General Manager Basudeb Saha and Sub-Manager (Vigilance Division) Shahid Hossain Sohag has been named as the member of committee.
At the end of the investigation, Titas officials came to a decision that the explosion occurred due to the gas pulling booster machine, not a boiler.
- There was no staircase in the factory’s five-storied building. only the lift was used for the upkeep of the workers.
- The lack of fire service efficiency has been observed in the process of extinguishing gas caused fire.
- Various types of rumors and misinformation have spread due to not being able to determine the accidental control room or the spokesperson immediately.
- Tongi is a laborious industrial zone but the hospital does not have the ability to provide proper treatment when an accident occurs suddenly.
Police filed case against the Factory owner Maqbool Hossain, Managing Director Tanvir Ahmed, along with a total of 10 officials of the factory. The charges includes murder case and some other charges.
Tongi Model Police Station sub-inspector (SI) Ajay Kumar Chakraborty filed a case six days after the incident. There were seven types of charges, including murder against the owner of the factory. According to the case details, the factory building was expired four years ago. So it was very risky and the factory’s boiler or gas line was faulty. Knowing the faults, the factory owner and management did not take any action.
It has also been mentioned that present workers and general people said that the gas pipeline of the factory was leak for a few days, after which the owner and the authorities had not taken any action to repair it.
Sections of the case: Constitution of Bangladesh, Article 11, 14, 15, 21, 27, 31, 32; Bangladesh Labor Act 2006, Building Construction Act, 1952 and Boiler Act 1923.
The district administration and labor ministry assured the families of the injured and killed workers after the accident. In the meantime, the district administration provided assistance to the families of those killed Tk 20 thousand and Tk 10 thousand to the injured people.
Gazipur deputy commissioner’s chief office assistant SM Solaiman Talukder said that after the accident, 39 bodies were recovered from the factory boundaries. A worker’s body was not found. Of these, 31 people have been identified. Eight of the bodies were sent for DNA tests to identify. Besides, a pedestrian named Asha and a rickshaw driver were also killed.
Solaiman said the families of 31 people identified in the accident among killed 43 people and financial assistance was given to 7 wounded. The rest of the injured 7 people are under process.
Ministry secretary Mikail Shipar said in the light of the Ministry of Labor that the family of the deceased will be provided assistance of Tk 200,000 and the maximum cost of treatment of the injured will be given of Tk 50 thousand. We have just got a list of 18 people. The work is going on to complete the list.
Meanwhile, the owner of the factory submitted Tk 100,000 in the labour court against each of the workers who were killed.
Statement from the NHRCB Public Hearing
Md Ferdous Alam, Machine Operator, Father: Md. Mofizur Rahman Solventless, Lalmonirhat Patgram District-
It was night shift. Turned off the machine at 5 o’clock in the morning. Before 6am, I got a terrible sound. I fell out of 20 feet. I tried to get up but could not rise. The room collapsed on the head. On the left side have a left shoulder injury. Knee fall on. The upper hardboard and the glass collapsed. I screamed ‘help me save me, my dear brother, save me’, but no one cares. After a while I got up. There was a small gate in front. I came out with its pocket gate. I think the gas riser leak was there. I smell the gas. There was smell before the accident. We informed the in-charge. The boiler operator also told him the matter. He went to inform others. He died during the blast. His name was Subhash. He is the shift in charge. I think this accident happened due to the gas explosion. Our factory engineer is also informed. He said that he will come to check at 9th.
Training has been done against our accidents. The chemical was in the upper storage section. The fire started at the lower ground. We have been told about chemicals. Solvents, savewak ink etc. were chemicals. These were combustible substances.
A quality manager took me to the hospital. Medical services were provided to Dhaka Medical College. However our Managing Director Mr. Tanvir Hossain went to see us at Dhaka Medical College. But after that there was no communication with us. There was a due salary allowance of 2 months. Deputy Commissioner gave 10 thousand taka. We used to get fire training after 2 months. There was security room beside the raiser. There was no material. The ink was ink machines. The machine was in the ground floor. There were machines near the gas explosion.
Rokon Miah, Electrician-
We heard the sound at 5:50 am and after that something broke down on my head. Then lose sense. I came to work at morning shift. Admitted in Dhaka Medical College. The medicine is to be purchased from outside. Also received treatment at other hospitals. There are 42 stitches on my head. Received treatment 9 days in Dhaka Medical Hospital. Afterwards, treatment was done in Tongi Medical College. The owner did not contacted. Worked there for 8 years.
Najma Begum, deceased worker Monwar Hossain’s wife-
We went to the spot after getting the news of the accident. Took him to Dhaka Medical College. Later he died.
Bilkis Akter, deceased worker Ismail Hossain’s wife-
My family was dependent fully on my husband. I was in Dhaka. A phone call from the village is about fire. I got my husband’s body on 12th.
Nargis Akhter, affected neighbor, husband Abdur Rahman died-
If the factory wall would be a little far then it would not have broken down on our tin-shed house. All the houses were broken. Fire service sprayed water from our roof. There is no earnings now. After the factory explosion we went out. Otherwise, many of us would have been killed. My son called the fire service and they came after that.
Tania, the deceased Asma’s sister, father Abul Kuddus, Mymensingh Gafargaon-
Asma was working next door garments. She died while passing through Tampaco. We brought the body out of the medical. I heard that the Deputy Commissioner gave money for burial but did not get the money.
Nargis, wife of Rafiqul Islam-
We could not find the body. I have cancer. Husband used to work there for four months. Later, I got the news of the fire. The husband was trapped. Screamed to get help. But he did not get any help. We could not identify the body of my husband.
Statement of human rights, journalists and labor organizations
Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed, Executive Director BILS-
On September 10, we have seen the accident happened in the foil factory in Tongi. This incident gave us a lot of message. This is an exception from conventional factory accidents. It is also different from the neglected accident here. After the accident, the responsibility of various departments of the government has been seen. Factories inspection, boiler authority, BSCIC, affiliation of such organizations. Here are some of the risks involved in the building. RAJUK is responsible for watching it. Next comes the Titas Gas. Neighbors have also been affected in this accident. The pedestrians were also killed. We think it needs to be widely reviewed, whose responsibilities were, who were affected. Different parties are working differently on this incident. Avoiding responsibility and going to get the minimum charity. The owner of the labor trial submitted one lakh rupees. But the Prime Minister has given compensation of fifteen lakh rupees to Rana Plaza accident. The buyer also paid a compensation of Tk 60 lakh.
Sheikh Md. Shahidullah, BSS, Gazipur-
At 5:55 in the morning there was a loud sound. Along with the fire service, Tongi police also came. Some volunteers joined with hammers and other tools. I saw the workers saving the lives of other workers pushing them through the window. Some of them break out through the window. The rest died there in the fire. The police station just send two or three police. I then call the OC again. Also called SP, MP, Mayor and others. If there were ladders with the fire service, many more could be saved. Rickshaw passengers also died there. People in the area come forward to rescue. Workers came forward and supported a lot. Ministry of Labor, district administration assured financial assistance to the affected workers. But neighbors have been affected but they didn’t get any cooperation. They are living in a unstable life. Local leaders distributed some relief. Fire service has played a great role. I believe there were 10 to 12 dead bodies that didn’t found. Titas Gas Authority said Booster Machine Explosion Accident Has Occurred But the factory official said there were accidents from the gas explosion, they did not have a booster machine. The owner party was absent at the day of the incident. On the next day of Eid, the people of the owner’s side made human bondages with some workers. Neighbors shopkeepers have lost at least Tk. 2.5 million. But what will they be compensated? I asked Gazipur DC to cooperate with them.
Mofizul Hossain, former President BSCIC-
I was president of 24 years BSCIC CBA. Tried many time to unionize in that factory but could not. All the workers were there from Sylhet. Used to pay wage on time and was to pay a bit more of the actual wage. He has four-storied building on the two-storied foundation. There was no substitute on the floor. There was no separate storehouse. Boilers were at risky places. There was no appointment letter, labor law did not followed. There was explosion in gas accumulation. Everything was in one place. BSCIC could monitor there but did not. But BSCIC office is nearby. Boiler can not be installed on the fourth floors. How did they get permission ? Titas gas screwed with two gas lines. After the incident, the illegal lines were removed by closing other factories. No Gratuity. Maqbool is the president of the local BSCIC Industry Owners Association. Big personnel are also involved with some local leaders and people. The accident happened due to the owners’ neglect and negligence. 15 days before the accident chemical of 10 millions came from India. The influential people helped him. Human bondage has been done with the help of local brokers. They have to be united to prevent them. Otherwise, the accident will happen in more factories of BSCIC. DIFE do not inspect, rather take bribe sitting in the office. No factory has two gates according to the law. We will not be able to get out of it if the rules are not in place to establish and operate the factory.
Md. Liton Khan, Nationalist Labor Party-
On 10 September we went to the spot, but could not go near. SKOP leaders and workers leaders came there. There was an ignorance of fire throughout the day. Press briefing demands compensation, treatment. The program was held in the Press Club, Dhaka. I say that the workers of Tongi failed in this case. But the national leaders came forward. Now our program should be taken. We demanded treatment and compensation for the injured. Think of whether workers in the Tongi area can collect one day’s salary for the workers of the factory.
Shaheen Akhter, trade union activist-
Before, in the movement of the SKOP, the airplane would have been closed. Now it’s weak. As a labor leader we are ashamed to introduce ourselves. We are not able to carry out any movement on the torture of workers, inspections. 40 neighboring families have been affected. We have cooperated as far as possible. What will the workers do for them? There is nothing to do except to trust Allah? Why the Labor Act is not implemented? We need to be more motivated for them.
Engineer Moktar Ali, National Labor Federation-
You have to divide into two parts. We demanded Tk 5 lakhs compensation by press conference. This pressure should be given at the top. We will sit in Tongi area and plan ahead. BILS will have to take this initiative. Have to work on the data of Rana Plaza and Spectrum. If it was known earlier that the factory of Tampaco would be preoccupied before.
Sahara Akhter Moushumi, Councilor City Corporation, 43, 44, 45 ward-
We got the sound at 6. Attempts were made to set fire apart by throwing water from the neighborhood. I heard the boiler exploded. Later boiler operator said, it is not a boiler explosion. Then the idea of gas explosion came out. Ground pressure was more due to the nearby factory closed. The number of older factories is more.
Shaheen Akhter Parvin, Jatiya Sramik Dal-
We have demanded Tk 20 lakh for the dead workers. Also demand proper treatment and compensation for all the victims.
Anwara Begum, Trade Union Center-
I talked with worker Subhash Chandra’s wife. She cites her husband and says that the accident could occur at any time.
Statement of victim workers, neighbors and eyewitnesses
Jibon Hawladar, the affected workers-
I had night duty. At the end there was a sudden sound. At first thought of earthquake. Then hear mass scream. By no means I ran out. I was in the ground floor. 25 workers were there at night. Many workers were joining to the morning duty. It seems to be a gas pipe explosion.
Sharmin Akhter, neighbor-
Our house was destroyed in the explosion. We came out of the house with little children. All I have is finished. No we are staying in a nearby club.
Kamruzzaman Helal, rescuer-
I just walking in the Morning. Suddenly heard a lot of noise and went there. Shamsunnahar Apa also called. We could not go near. That day did not go for work. District administration established a control room. I was there in the control room, giving information to the people. We arranged for lodging, accommodation to the victims with the support of local students and people. Arranged accommodation in the local hostel. But the relief system could not be adequate. We did not do much as the labor leaders in Tongi. I could not even do a human chain. Could not even make a precautionary meeting. Workers leaders need to be more motivated. After the incident some thieves have also been abused, they have stolen the chemical box.
Shamsunnahar Bhuiyan, General Secretary, Women’s Workers League–
I could not forget the incident. I was always there, stayed there with my grandchildren and my daughter. So many flames, heat and chemical smell, were not going to be approached. The local people also contributed a lot. We have also taken initiative. Neighbors take refuge under the flyover. The MP had cooperated. Many of the workers’ leaders also questioned the role of many. We do not know what kind of damage has happened to children, pregnant women by the effects of gas. Need to be researched. 24 inspectors were in charge there, what responsibility they did? Seeing the death of workers in front of the eye, but could not save, mental pain is a lot. Let the leaders say, let the local leaders talk, come together and work together, discuss. The owner has made the human chain! But we could not. Five from each federation, let’s go to the factory inspection and ask other authorities what they are working, want to know about progress. Ask how many factories they have visited! The owner paid a compensation of one lakh rupees. We were astonished of that. Sufficient compensation must be claimed by a press conference from SKOP. We propose to take initiatives to collect funds from different factories.
Action taken by Trade Union:
- Sromik Kormocari Oikko Parishad-SKOP representatives visited the incident site immediately after the accident, organized a press conference in Tongi and in the National Press Club, and investigated the accident through media, trial of the accused, treatment of injured workers, compensation for the injured and injured workers, and demanded rehabilitation of injured workers.
- Sromik Kormocari Oikko Parishad-SKOP the Tongi Regional Coordination Committee, formed Information and Support Center, follow-up the compensation and medical activities. Given memorandum to Director General DIFE, Deputy Commissioner of Gazipur District and the Police Super.
Trade Union Position & Recommendation:
- To ensure participation of trade union representatives in the investigation team
To form a team with the participation of trade union representatives in determining actual losses in the accident and according to the report prepared by this coordinated team, to ensure compensation and rehabilitation of the victims.
- Compensation Assessment and Distribution
To compensate the deceased and injured workers in the Tampaco accident on the basis of compensation for the workers killed and injured workers in the Rana Plaza accident. Set the minimum amount of compensation to 15 lakh. Compensate the families of the missing workers.
Provide employment to all workers in Tampaco factory after payment of 3 months of wages and other benefits according to the labor law.
- To include compensation to the buyers
Official initiatives have to take by Tampako factory to compensate the workers by domestic and foreign buyers.
- Treatment of injured workers
Ensuring better treatment of injured workers by govt. As a result of the accident, arrangements are made to pay the wages of the injured workers and neighbors in the medical sector so far. Organizing health camps in government management, arranging for proper treatment and medicines by identifying the health-concerns of neighbors due to injuries and chemicals in the accident.
- Forming a joint inspection team to visit the factory:
To set up a joint inspection team comprising representatives of DIFE, Directorate of Environment, Boiler Department, Fire Service and Civil Defense, Titas Gas Authority, BSCIC and SKOP representatives to assess existing conditions and risks for all factories in Tongi region and According to the risks and recommendations identified by the team, improving the safety and work environment of the factory .
- To issue appointment letter, identity card, and safety committee for all workers according to labor law
To ensure the appointment letter and identity card of all laborers in all industries and factories in Gazipur including Tongi, and ensure that the factories who have not been given the appointment letter and identity card beyond the rules of the factory, which are brought to justice under the Labor Act, should be punished.
Under the Labor Act, to ensure safety and effective management of the safety committees in every factory and to bring all workers under insurance.
- Involve trade union representatives to publish and report the report of the accident investigation committee
To publish the report of various inquiry committee formed by the government, to take disciplinary action against the negligent individuals and departments and to take effective action by involving the trade union representatives to implement the recommendations of the committees.
- Determination of the risk of environmental and public health caused by the Tampaco accident
As a result of the emergence of chemicals, to form an expert committee to identify the long-term harmful effects of environmental and public health in Tongi local area, and to take appropriate action according to committee report.