The Karwan Bazar fire that burnt out a market and left at least 200 wholesalers in a state of utter helplessness is the latest reminder of how vulnerable people are to what appears to be avoidable incidents of fire.
An electric shortcircuit is reported to have sparked off the fire, but that is perhaps an overly simplistic explanation of what really happened at the wholesale market. It is a matter of great concern that the electricity supply system is flawed and hazardous, particularly in slums and densely populated areas where the minimum safety arrangements are absent as people set up illegal connections through bribing the suppliers and the worn-out lines are seldom maintained properly. The Karwan Bazar case might not have been very different since markets and shopping malls are known to be among unauthorised consumers of electricity along with the ultra poor slum dwellers. Even if it is found that everything was all right at the ill-fated market, nothing can alter the truth that the power supply system needs a lot of improvement in terms of safety.
Some incidents that took place when the fire engulfed the market leave a lot to be desired. Instead of coming to the rescue of the wholesalers in distress, some hooligans decided to loot the shops as law and order suddenly collapsed in the area. It is an example of brutalisation of society and should provide food for thought to the social thinkers.
The fire is likely to have a negative impact on the market as huge quantities of essentials have been destroyed at a time when Ramadan is roughly 45 days away. It seems ultimately the poor consumers will have to pay for the disaster.
The government must not look at it as an unavoidable routine mishap. Pauperisation of 200 wholesale traders is an ominous development which the decision makers should handle through taking necessary steps. After all, a stable market is what people always look forward to, particularly during the month of Ramadan.