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Building explosions: A dire threat for the city dwellers

Published : Tuesday, 14 March, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 689

Building explosions: A dire threat for the city dwellers

Building explosions: A dire threat for the city dwellers

Bangladesh is a developing country with a significant population density, and as a result, it has a variety of infrastructure and security issues. The risk of explosions in residential and commercial buildings is one of Bangladesh's biggest safety worries. Explosions caused by mostly gas leaks have the potential to seriously harm infrastructure, property, and even human life, therefore it's critical to comprehend this threat and take the necessary precautions to lessen it.

We have seen a number of building explosions and fires since the beginning of this year. The utility lines at those structures are to blame for the majority of these mishaps. Several people suffered injuries, and many others lost their lives. We have had a number of such events, both this year and in years before. Due to the haphazard nature of utility lines underground, one can say that the city of Dhaka is about to collapse given the dire condition.

Since there is no subsurface mapping of the sewage, gas, and electrical lines, and no one knows whether the lines overlap one another, if a significant earthquake strikes Dhaka today, at least half of the casualties will be burn victims. To understand how these lines enter and exit buildings in Dhaka, especially those constructed before Bangladesh passed the Fire Prevention and Extinguishing Act in 2003, a thorough mapping is required. A detailed mapping will provide information on the condition of the underground utility line, which will help us determine what safety precautions can be implemented to prevent a fatal accident.

The outdated and corroded gas pipeline infrastructure in Bangladesh is one of the main reasons for building explosions. Much of Bangladesh's gas pipeline infrastructure is old and requires repair or replacement, and this can lead to gas leaks that can eventually result in explosions. Also, the risk of gas leak explosions might be increased by the use of subpar materials in the installation of gas pipes and gas appliances.

Another significant source of gas accumulating is sewerage systems. These pipelines are used to hold various gases, including methane. Sewerage pipes have the potential to create significant gas leaks and explosions if they are not properly maintained.

There is no official data on how many AC units or refrigerators are being used in Bangladesh, Recently, it was discovered that numerous explosions and ensuing fires were caused by air conditioners that were unable to function properly. Regular maintenance is needed for these freezers and air conditioners.

Furthermore, the majority of the structures that experience explosions lack RAJUK or DIT designs, and we have little to no knowledge about the architecture of those structures. It is really troublesome as the number of such infrastructures is huge in our country. Even in the nation's capital, Dhaka, the majority of buildings lack fire protection features, which makes the situation even more horrific because it makes it harder to tackle any calamity.

One of the major reason as well as the risk factor attached with the current explosions is the increased heat. We are yet to enter the brutal summer and the extreme heat may cause many more explosions. Scenarios like wildfire can also be apparent as the heat can cause massive fire on different instances.

The likelihood of gas leak explosions is additionally increased by Bangladesh's high population density. With so many people crammed into a tiny space, there is a higher chance of gas leaks and explosions because any explosion has the ability to seriously harm both people and property. In addition, Bangladesh's inadequate emergency response infrastructure can make it challenging to respond to gas leak explosions and to mitigate their impact.

Another element that heightens the threat is the general lack of knowledge about the dangers of explosions and gas leaks in sewer and gas lines. Many people in Bangladesh may not take the necessary precautions to avoid explosions because they are unaware of the risks involved.

There are several steps that can be taken to address the dangers posed by building explosions in Bangladesh. Priority one should be given to spending money on infrastructure improvements for deteriorating gas and sewage pipelines. In order to ensure that any gas leaks are swiftly found and fixed, it is also crucial to perform routine inspections and maintenance of gas and sewerage pipelines and appliances.

Increasing public awareness of the dangers is another crucial technique for tackling the problem of building explosions in Bangladesh. Public awareness programs that stress the value of routine maintenance and inspections of gas and sewerage pipelines and appliances as well as what to do in an emergency can accomplish this. Also, it could be important to train emergency responders in emergency situations and make investments in the infrastructure needed to respond swiftly and effectively to gas leaks, fires, and explosions.

We need to encourage individuals to use combustible items less frequently. Items made of wood should be used less frequently since they can ignite large-scale fires in the event of a fire. Also, the kitchen should be situated next to the exterior wall of the structure to prevent a fire from quickly spreading throughout the entire house. To prevent an electrical fire, flammable electronic items must be handled carefully and have their own circuit breakers.

Transformers, sub-stations, generation, etc. must be located inside an infrastructure, under the construction law. This is a bad strategy because they can easily trigger explosions and damage the entire infrastructure. To improve safety, these ought to be positioned outside the main structure.

The fire safety equipment is very costly in Bangladesh and hence, many building owners do not tend to use those. Moreover, the relevant authorities only check on the large buildings though the accidents are more frequent in two to five-storied small buildings. If the fire safety materials are absent, then the authority tends to fine the building owners but that is not a solution. Additionally, fire or explosion related accidents provide the authority a chance to collect fine or bribe from the building owners and the problem remains unsolved. There should be no fine. Rather the authority must ensure that, all the buildings have fire safety measures and the government should significantly decrease the price of fire safety equipment.

The government should implement a separate water channel throughout the city other than WASA. Water from lakes or surrounding rivers should be channelized throughout the city. In case of fire, the citizens can use that water to calm the fire. There are many slums or other areas in the city where WASA line is absent and hence, this water channel can become helpful there as that will not decrease the water level of the city and degrade the soil quality. Moreover, the authority can use this channel to water the roads of the city and that will significantly drop the temperature as well as will reduce dust pollution.

It is important to note that, while we are trying to identify the natural or human-made unintentional causes behind the building explosions, we may experience some heavy intentional explosions in the future especially with the next general election knocking on the door. Different fundamental groups might take the chance to create panic through such explosions and our law enforcers need to remain extremely cautious about this threat. Every building along with the basements must install CCTV cameras with several video backup options. It should work like the black box of the airplanes so that we can learn about the real reason behind an explosion from the video feed rather than guessing it.

In Bangladesh, the risk of building explosions is a serious safety hazard that needs immediate response. Investments in emergency response infrastructure, regular inspections and maintenance of pipelines and appliances, public awareness-raising programs, and the repair and replacement of aged gas and sewerage pipeline infrastructure are all necessary to address this hazard.By taking these measures, Bangladesh can help to reduce the risk of building explosions and to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens. We hope the government and all relevant authority will treat this matter as urgent and will take real effective measure to save the dwellers.

-    The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla

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