Bangladeshi building inspectors accused of negligence

Featured South East Asia - June 11th, 2013

The cracks that crept along the wall of the Rana Plaza building a day after it collapsed etched a warning that could’ve saved 1,129 lives, if not for one misstep.

The omission was that inspectors apparently never even visited the eight-storey building in the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka before renewing licenses for the garment factories situated there, a labour ministry investigation has found.

“In the cases of these five factories, the inspectors renewed the licenses sitting at their desks,” said Mikail Shipar, a top labour ministry official.

He said one of the factories, EtherTex, had been operatong without any license from the factory inspection department since 2008, while the others were licensed through 2013.

Seven inspectors were suspended following the probe and could lose their jobs once the accusations are proven.

Three of the suspended inspectors were also believed to be involved in renewing the license of a garment factory where 112 people perished in a fire in November, Shipar said.

While the number of garment factories in Bangladesh has soared in recent years, their safety is left in the hands of a small group of inspectors, reports the Financial Times.