The Bangabazar blaze that reduced some 5,000 shops and ready-made garments worth over Tk. 1000 crore to ashes was catastrophic. But what may follow could be even worse for around 4,000 affected small traders and their families unless rehabilitation measures are taken fast. Heartening, as a first step towards their rehabilitation the government took a swift step in clearing the debris and readying the burnt ground of the shopping complex, enabling the traders to resume business in makeshift shops from yesterday.
It is also encouraging that donations are pouring in from a cross-section of people to help rehabilitate the affected traders. From politicians to businessmen, corporate houses to volunteer groups to even transgender people are lending their helping hands to the fire victims. The government as well as FBCCI have announced financial commitments. Besides, what is encouraging is that a good number of people are coming in and donating at a booth at the site of Bangabazar. A bank account opened to receive donations in this regard is also a good response from people home and abroad. Besides, random people are seen buying partially burned or damaged clothes at hefty prices as a token of support. A member of transgender community donated Tk. 2 lakh, the amount which she had saved to perform hajj.
At present, Bangladesh Shop Owners Association and Bangabazar Shopping Complex Shop Owners’ Association are receiving the donation and coordinating the financial assistance. But we think eventually the government will have to take the lead in reconstructing the market and rehabilitating the affected traders.
The shoppers have not only lost their shops to the fire, but also goods and working capital stored in the shops. They are in urgent need of support so that they can turn around. So, we hope more and more well-to-do people and businesses will come forward to stand by the victims of the cruel fire tragedy.