The government is working on setting up a separate authority for the approval of structural designs of buildings and supervision of construction.
Initially, this authority will supervise the construction of factories and shopping complexes.
Chaired by the prime minister's Adviser for Private Industry and Investment, Salman F Rahman, a meeting was held in this regard in the conference room of the Security Service Division under the Ministry of Home Affairs on 6 July.
Speakers at the meeting exchanged views on taking coordinated steps between various inspection agencies to prevent accidents and ensure a safe working environment at factories, industries, and commercial establishments, said sources at the Office of Private Industry and Investment Adviser.
In the meeting, Salman F Rahman said, "The structural design of buildings (technical design) is most important to ensure fire and other safety but there is no dedicated authority for inspecting and approving technical designs."
The work of preparing and implementing standardised technical designs can be done by an organisation of architects, engineers and planners, the prime minister's adviser said.
According to sources, there is a difference of opinion about who will do the design approval and supervision of building construction. There is a problem in determining authority in particular cases. Also, if an accident occurs in an industrial establishment, no government agency wants to take responsibility as there is no specific authority.
In July 2021, a devastating fire broke out at the factory of Hashem Foods Limited in Rupganj upazila of Narayanganj, killing 52 workers. A government report revealed there were several defects, including a lack of fire safety at that factory.
Later, various circles including intellectuals, expressed concern, saying that relevant government authorities need to check whether factories are being built as per building codes and whether regulations are being followed by management.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina then directed authorities concerned to determine the real picture of safety at industries and factories across the country.
A 24-member high-level national committee headed by Salman F Rahman was formed to conduct site inspections of industries under the supervision of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida).
At the end of last month, a meeting on "Effective Technical Design Management to Ensure Safe Building Construction" was held at the Bida conference room where the issue of forming a separate authority for design approval and supervision of buildings was discussed.
Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam told The Business Standard (TBS), "A committee has been appointed that will recommend a national committee for approving technical designs of buildings."
"Two months have been given for providing recommendations. The national committee will then take final decisions," he added.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) standing committee on real estate and housing met on July 31.
In the meeting, FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin, said, "Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) approves only the architectural design of a building, but approval of structural design is also necessary for safety. Therefore, a separate authority is required to approve structural design."