LIFTS AND ITS SAFETY ISSUES:
I first came to know about the elevator mishap at a shopping mall in the Uttara area a couple of hours back, which caused fire and brought death to several people, through a mobile phone news alert service. It's a matter of great concern indeed as we all ignore the importance of third party inspections. Bangladesh is perhaps the only country in the whole world where we lack the regulations on the use of elevators/ escalators, though there are few regulations available on third party inspection for pressure vessels, boilers, vehicles, fire safety and few more installations.
Do we ever think that elevators/escalators are absolutely like surface transportation means? The difference is that lift and escalators move us vertically. Therefore, it is a means of vertical transportation where we ride with all our absolute blind trust considering 'all is well'. Especially, elevators are of serious concern. We don't see this vehicle moving, we cannot apparently see the internal technical faults as well. It's not like the horizontal transportation means, which we can see moving and if there is any defect, it becomes visible to us.
These inherent issues keep us away from the awareness about the importance of the lifts being checked up on a regular basis by third parties. All over the world this third party inspection is made mandatory like the fitness certificate we obtain from the BRTA and get them renewed every year. Even in India we find a template sticking on the wall of elevator cabins stating the date of inspection and the name of the authority issuing this certificate.
It has always been like this in all our national issues, but I would like to mention the issues relating to our urbanization specifically. As a nation we always allow the problems to grow to its last stage or to the state of point of no return and finally don't get any option rather than yammering
We are indiscriminately urbanising ourselves without foreseeing its impact during any disaster. As a nation we never can foresee the negative consequences of any issue or we don't take preventive measures in most of the cases. It's the responsibility of the State to initiate such regulations to protect the lives and assets. Unless the State makes inspection mandatory, we the lame people would never be so discerning to feel that elevators/escalators are more risky and accident-prone than cars.
Nowadays, we all are opting for high-rise buildings and elevators are inevitable there. In the 70s, there were countable elevators in our cities but in course of time and by the surge of rapid urbanisation, there are thousands of elevators in operation now. This number would climb to 6 digits very soon.
Therefore, I strongly believe that this is the noble responsibility of the State to draw an Act on the safety of elevators and escalators immediately.
I urge the Institute of Architects Bangladesh to initiate this process; as we the architects design buildings for the safety of people not to take their lives.
This article was published in the Daily Observer on 26 June, 2016