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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Thursday, November 29, 2012
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My fault, but none alerted me

Tazreen MD tells Star

Delowar Hossain

“It was my fault,” said Delowar Hossain, managing director of Tazreen Fashion Ltd, yesterday.

“But nobody told me that there was no emergency exit which could be made accessible from outside. Nobody even advised me to install one like that, apart from the existing ones,” he argued in an exclusive interview with The Daily Star, for the first time since the deadly fire killed 111 workers at his factory on Saturday.

“I could have done it. But nobody ever suggested that I do it.”

While Delowar was apparently shaken by the tragedy, he did not announce any compensation for the families of the deceased, nor did he clearly express any sympathy for them, at least not in public.

Besides shouldering the entire responsibility for the incident, Delowar also blamed others for the tragedy -- at least partly. He alleged that the officials of the labour department had visited his factory several times, but they had not raised any question about the exit routes.

It was the social compliance audit of the retail giant Walmart that complained only about the excess working hours at the factory. “But we have rectified the problem after receiving the complaint,” he claimed.

The retailer did not complain about the absence of any emergency exit from outside, Delowar said, adding that it did not even raise any objection over having a warehouse on the ground floor in the same building and near the staircase.

“Now I can understand it was my fault and I realise it at a time when more than a hundred lives have been lost,” said Delowar.

A total of 1,137 workers, out of 1,163, were present in the factory when the incident occurred. The factory has a space of 1.40 lakh square feet.

Delowar started his own garment business in March 2004 by setting up Tuba Textiles Mills Limited with two production lines. Ashulia-based Tazreen Fashion is a sister concern of Tuba Group.

He made his fortune with the garments business by setting up a dozen units since 2004. Earlier, his career began as an accounts manager at Latest Garment in 1989.

Delowar refuted the claim that the fire had originated from an electric short circuit on the ground floor. “It is not true, as there was no electric point over there,” he asserted.

“Of course, I believe it is sabotage and therefore, a pre-planned incident. We are looking for some officials who were present during the incident and now cannot be traced,” he said.

Among the officials, Mubarak Hossain Manju, production manager, was on the fourth floor during the incident; while Mohammad Dulal, quality manager, was on the third floor though his seating arrangement was on the fifth floor. Abdur Razzak, factory manager, was on the third floor although his designated desk was on the fifth floor, mentioned Delowar.

“If they are found, they can tell us why the workers were barred from leaving the second, third and fourth floors after the first fire alarm had rung,” he said.

Denying the allegation of locking the collapsible gates from outside during the incident, the owner said: “The gates were never locked. They always remain open.”

He also explained that the warehouse was set up on the ground floor to facilitate the loading and unloading of raw materials.

Asked if it was a violation of rules having a warehouse on the ground floor and adjacent to the staircases, he only replied: “Now I can realise many things.”

He also admitted that the fire extinguishers did not work. “The workers panicked rather than use the fire extinguishers. Every worker was trained to use it,” he claimed.

Earlier in the day, The Daily Star reached Delowar, who was thrust into the spotlight over the nation's deadliest factory fire in history.

He shared much of his personal and business information but denied some of the allegations that have been raised after the mayhem.

The first issue, on his being a Canadian citizen, Delowar claimed: “I never went to Canada, let alone having the citizenship. No one can find a Canadian visa on my passport … Anyone can search with the Canadian embassy.

“Even a media report cited that I am an Italian citizen. I do not know how and where they got the information, which is completely baseless,” he said.

Earlier at noon, a visit to the group's corporate office adjacent to Gulshan Circle-1 revealed that the entry doors were locked.

The lone security guard, Nurul Islam, was walking to and fro in the apartment building, Esprit, a six-storeyed building facing Gulshan Lake.

“Four to five employees came to the office in the morning, but then left immediately,” said Islam, adding that around 60 employees work in the head office.

Delowar, however, claimed that the head office was open and the employees were working inside after locking the doors “to avoid any untoward incident”.

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Being the owner of Tazreen Fashion Ltd and heading the organisation too, Mr. Delowar Hossain cannot shrug off his responsibility in any way. As he is smart enough to set up such a big factory and run it he should have been intelligent enough to understand the building's faulty plan and lack of security for the workers.

: Anonymous

Again why Wal-Mart is at fault or lying? Is there any current contract between Tazreen and Wal-Mart? Also, why is he blaming the government and the buyer when he is the one who knowingly agreed the terms of Wal-Mart with Tuba and then funneled the work to non-compliant Tazreen? Is he that clever but dumb enough to ruin his own business? Yes this is called greed and total disrespect to any human sufferings and any law. Where are his efforts to make the work place safe? This is Bangladesh style of business.

: rch

Comments

  • Akash
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 02:03 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Poor Delwar. No one advised him about emergency exit to outside! And I am sure no one advised him about how to buy land, build building, get loan, procure machinery, contact buyers, run business, open account, buy house, buy cars... what is he trying to do? Make us look like fools?

  • Selma
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 02:05 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    This slob can do with some jail time and he certainly deserves it.

  • Translucent
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 02:25 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Clearly this person is not fit to run a RMG factory. BGMEA, the govt agencies must also accept responsibilities for not identifying absence of emergency exits. It is not good enough to suggest sabotage and walk away! Fire safety measures should have been implemented.

  • zabi
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 02:40 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Wealth and power are the two things which have led many to the path of astray.

  • braum harald
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 02:40 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Nobody told him that there were no emergency stairs? Did he ever go to his workplace? This is a funny excuse, if he is the owner he should by any means know his factory or is he that stupid? Well now he is in the shits at least. He should pay compensation to the families.

  • Muneera
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 03:03 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Its ridiculous an excuse to say ' I didn't know'....why was he in the business if he didn't know how to ensure the safety of the people working for him? He certainly knew how to make money out of them?

  • Anonymous
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 03:12 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    So now you are pretending you didn't know that there should have been an emergency exit for 200 people huddled inside a badly wired windowless facility? You are smart enough to deal with Wal-Mart and sell you garments to the US but you didn't know that there are safety regulations that need to be followed. Take your stupidity to some other place -- spare us!! Now you are also taking us for fools. YOU ARE A MURDERER! Because you closed the doors and didn't let people escape. Your assets were more important than human lives to you.

  • Dr. M.Badruddoja
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 04:03 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    All the claims of Delwar are baseless. He has committed homicide. He is a murderer and he should be tried in criminal court of justice. Of course PM and his advisers will save this murderer to start the business as usual.

  • barkat
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 04:29 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    So Delwar wants us to believe that he being a Bangladeshi living in Dhaka is not aware about the safety exit of his factory. Whereas a US based buyer Wal-mart is able to find the lack of safety exit. He is in Garments sector for last twenty years and he is employing thousand's of workers and he is expecting that someone should tell him about the factory exit matter. This guy is not just unethical and greedy but a big liar. He should face the justice without any delay and without any excuse.

  • Mohammad Jamal
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 05:52 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    My question is how a factory gets operating license in Bangladesh without being inspected by the Government's safety agency. So many families are devastated because of this terrible accident and due to this enormous loss of valuable lives. This is not the first fire which occurred in a factory. Did the government do anything to rectifying this safety concern? It's a big no. The whole world read this news and expressed great dismay. The government and factory owner should take joint effort to compensate the bereaved families. The government should take immediate steps and make it mandatory to ensure fire exits are built in all the factories. Failing to take this corrective action will affect our garment exports to US and Europe.

  • niloufar sarker
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 06:25 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    He is the managing director in every sense of the word. No one but he is responsible for the safety of his workers. How can he even imagine that the retailer or for that matter anybody in the factory should have warned him about the exit. He must have paid big bucks to bypass compliance. What is his responsibility as the Managing Director, to take fat salaries & perks & a BIG PROFIT at the expense of the poor workers? He should be answerable in court of law.

  • Shabbir A Bashar
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 06:43 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    A man smart enough to create so much wealth for him and this country is smart enough to figure out the safety concern. As MD he is responsible for all that happens in his organization. Unfortunately greed seems to have prevailed over his concern for the health and safety of his staff. Exemplary and rapid punishment must be meted out to this individual. This is a grave crime against humanity.

  • RageAgainstTheMachine
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 07:16 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    He should go to trial, if not; get hung in front of all the remaining Garment Owners of Bangladesh.

  • mujibul alam khan
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 07:47 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Delowar could fancy his chances for the knowledge of garments factory owners in Bangladesh enjoy ‘The Right to Abuse’! He should do the following things immediately. Provide Tk 200,000 cash compensation to each of the 111, create employment for one of their family members, and ensure fire safety as well as environmental safety in every single factory and office he owns. The rest remains with the God Almighty.

  • Zulfikar Hyder
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 08:06 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    The number of death victims seems to vary when the story is heard from the eye witnesses. If 1,137 workers were working in the factory before the inferno, deducting the number of survivors there from can be the actual number of victims. We could not know the number of the survivors. Can anyone tell us exactly how many workers could save themselves?

  • Faisal Ahsan
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 09:14 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    We hate you evil Delowar Hoassain; you are just a murderer. Go to hell.

  • Mohammad Nurul Hoque
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 09:32 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Where everything is manageable, nothing is impossible there. Few days it will be continue about the discussion of fire and its condition. After that everything is finished. Again fire, again death and again discussion.

  • Saleh Md. Shahriar
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:19 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    My question to Delowar : how are you sure that the tragedy was 'sabotage and a pre-planned incident' without having any proven evidence?

  • David E Baker
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:19 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    This is a disgrace. The owners should be made to compensate every single family who has lost a loved one because of their total neglect of safety measures.

  • Md. Mostafizur Rahman
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:21 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Like M. Abedin, I want to say locked him as criminal.

  • Naharin
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:22 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    As he shoulders responsibility, he must make good of the irreparable loss he made.

  • Sheikh Monirul Islam, Opee
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:30 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    From the interview of Mr. Delowar Hossain, MD of Tazreen Fashion Ltd by the Daily star clearly tells us that Wal-Mart is lying. Wal-Mart visited the premises of Tazreen Fashion Ltd on compliance issue; but in a recent statement Wal-Mart clearly stated that they were not aware of where their products are coming from as long as they know that it is coming from their legally contracted source. They (Wal-Mart) specifically mentioned that they have no dealings with Tazreen Fashion Ltd. We live in a very strange world; two different statements from two different independent sources. We need to take note of this very seriously. All those 112 families of the dead body-turned into=charcoal must receive very high amount of compensation. The amount must be so big that each of those family should be able to start their own independent manufacturing unit and if Wal-Mart is human enough…must buy products from them. It is very much possible if all sides work together very positively.

  • M Abedin
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:40 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Why someone has to alert him. Garments worker are not human being? they are the golden people of our country? But owner doesn't respect them,treat like a criminal locked them whole time. punish this idiot. I do not have any sympathy with this guy. hate them, hate them

  • Maurice Peterson
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:45 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Delowar Hossain, managing director of Tazreen Fashion Ltd, must have known the reason for Walmart declaring that his company was a high risk one. Delowar Hossain will try his best to proof his innocence to the world and there are many that will believe him. As the owner of his factory, he is fully responsible for the death of his workers. His own words prove that he is running a business to count the profits and was never worried about the safety of his employees.

    There are more questions that require answers to identify contributors to this fatal incident.

    Do the authorities carry out thorough inspection to ensure the building meets the building and fire code before permitting to provide water, gas and electricity connections. There should be written documents provided to proof.

    Delowar Hossain, managing director of Tazreen Fashion Ltd, proudly says that employees were trained to use the fire extinguishers, does he have any documentation to support his words. Who were the companies that trained his employees? Was the company that carried out training approved by relevant authorities?

    Along with Delowar Hossain, managing director of Tazreen Fashion Ltd, the authorities those that permitted him to start running his business are also at fault in this fatal incident. All these people must be brought to accountability.

    If the building inspectors carried out their tasks truthfully according to the books and would not allow this business to run before fulfilling the building and fire codes, this fatal incident would have been prevented.

  • Reaz Hassan
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:47 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Since Mr. Delwar Hossain as the Managing Director failed to look after and ensure the safety and security of his work force, he remains culpable for the deaths of over a hundred workers. The only punishment is to file a murder charge against him.

  • Truth Teller
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:49 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    What does he mean by no one did alert him? Why should someone alert him? It’s his responsibility to make sure his workers are working in a safe environment. I am quite sure he had visited the factory and he must have noticed the lapse in safety system there. Now, he is just playing his game of being sympathetic so that he could avoid people’s wrath. It’s nice to enjoy the profit, but he must realize that it comes with responsibilities.

  • Mohammad
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:49 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Yes ... Mr. Delowar ... you could have done it but you did not as you were so very busy making money ... and now you have dug graves ...

    Keep up your business ethics ...

  • Omar
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:55 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Probably he wants to start the factory again. That's why he is coming to public.

    Lots of time his factory had been warned (including some buyers).

    This man is a pure liar. He only wants profit.

  • Reaz Hassan
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:58 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    He cannot give life but we can sue him for murder of over hundred men and women. Why is he still breathing fresh air and not in the dungeon?

  • Wali
    Thursday, November 29, 2012 01:04 AM GMT+06:00 (92 weeks ago)

    Delowar's claim that 'None alerted me' is ridiculus and unacceptable. It is like a quack doctor who operates patients for his greed for money and when the patient dies says, 'None alerted me.' He knows how to make tons of money but does not know to keep an escape route for the workers is unacceptable. When are we going to see his photo with the handcuffs?


 

 


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