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Dhaka factory fire certificate had expired

Dhaka, Dec. 7 (AP): The factory where 112 garment workers died in a fire should have been shut down months ago. The fire department refused to renew the certification it needed to operate, a top fire official told The Associated Press. And its owner told AP that just three of the factory’s eight floors were legal. He was building a ninth.

Government officials knew of the problems, but the factory just kept running.

The Capital Development Authority could have fined Tazreen Fashions Ltd. or even pushed for the demolition of illegally built portions of the building, said an agency official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media. But it chose to do nothing, rather than confront one of Bangladesh’s most powerful industries, he said. “I must say we have our weaknesses. We could not do that,” he said. “Not only Tazreen. There are hundreds more buildings. That’s the truth.”

Bangladesh’s $20 billion-a-year garment industry, which accounts for 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s total export earnings, goes virtually unchallenged by the government, said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, a labour group.

 
 
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