At least 20 markets owned by Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) are operating in risky buildings, putting the safety and property of owners, tenants and customers at risk.
Lake of proper maintenance has made the condition of some DCC markets dilapidated and they can collapse anytime, traders fear.
Traders have suffered losses of Tk 500 to 600 crore in the blaze.
On early Tuesday, a devastating fire broke out in Gulshan-1 DNCC market and some portions of the market collapsed. Around 600 shops were gutted in the fire.
According to the people concerned, a portion of the market collapsed during the fire due to its dilapidated condition. After the incident, traders and tenants of the risky city corporation markets are worried about the risk of collapse. Many fear that another catastrophe may occur anytime in those dilapidated structures.
The Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) earlier declared 31 buildings of two city corporations as risky. 20 of those 31 structures are markets.
Some risky structures include Gulshan (North) Paka Market, Gulshan (North) Kacha Market, Gulshan (South) Paka Market, Gulshan (South) Kacha Market, Mohakhali Kacha Bazar, Prantik Super Market (Gabtoli), Kawran Bazar No 1 Building Market, Kawran Bazar No 2 Building Market, Kawran Bazar Kitchen Market, Kawran Bazar No 1 Building Market, Kawran Bazar No 2 Building Market, Kawran Bazar Kitchen Market, Kawran Bazar Wholesale Market, Kolmi Lata Kacha Market, Khilgaon Taltola Super Market, Khilgaon Kacha Market, Mohammadpur Town Hall Market, Rayer Bazar Market and New Super Market.
During visits to some of those markets, this correspondent found that the ceilings of most of the markets are damaged. Cracks were also seen in different parts of those markets. Traders said rainwater leaks through the roofs during the rainy season.
Shafiqul Islam, a trader at Kawran Bazar Kitchen Market, said the City Corporations finished off their duty by leasing out the shops after setting up the markets. Though they have been collecting the rent regularly, most of the City Corporation markets were not repaired since those were built.
“We informed the authorities regarding the need for maintenance but they did not do anything,” another trader alleged, adding “These markets need immediate repair.”
Many traders alleged that cleaners appointed by City Corporations do not show up regularly. Due to lack of cleaning work, waste was seen here and there in most of the markets. Most of the time traders do the cleaning work by their own.
Sher Mohammad, president of DNCC Kacha Market Traders Association, said “We have accepted the fact that our market is risky. We were not against building a new structure here. But before demolishing the market, we demanded confirmed allotments in the new building for the existing traders. But the DNCC authorities rejected our demand.”
Dhaka North City Mayor Annisul Huq told journalists that experts from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) declared the building (Gulshan DCC market) as risky few years back and suggested to reduce the load on the structure.
“The City Corporation informed the shop owners about the risk factor through sending official letters and attaching a signboard on the market reading ‘risky’. But the shop owners had removed it,’ he said.
“There are many markets like this. But they (traders) have not been paying heed to anything,” he said.
A few months ago, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon said the risky buildings would be demolished and new constructions will replace the older ones. But the DSCC failed to manage the traders for constructing a new building by demolishing the existing one.