The 23-storey FR Tower is not safe for use now as it was damaged in Thursday's fire that claimed 26 lives, experts said.
“It [the building] is not safe for use now… Cracks have developed on its columns and slabs,” said Mehedi Ahmed Ansary, professor of the Civil Engineering department in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), yesterday.
Prof Ansary made the observations after he and five other members of a committee, formed by Rajuk, visited the building to ascertain whether it is risky and vulnerable.
The BUET professor said they will conduct some tests within a couple of days to make an initial assessment.
“We have set a timeframe of 150 days to conduct a detailed engineering assessment [DEA]…. The building might be made usable after the assessment if all fire safety measures and the compliance of the building code are ensured,” he said
“There was no staircase separated from the main building. Even that is a violation. They have to set up separate fire exits beforehand,” he said.
The decision regarding the illegally erected top floors will depend on the findings of the DEA, he said while replying to a query on whether they would recommend breaking the floors.
“There were fire safety equipment but there were no trained staff members to use those…the building authorities never conducted a fire drill either,” he said, adding that such incident will recur despite having modern fire safety equipment if the staffers were not trained.
Another member of the committee and also a professor in BUET, Raquib Ahsan, said, “We found that the fire exit doors in some floors were locked. It cannot be termed as a fire exit as it is merely a staircase.”
“It is all the same whether such staircase exists or not in the building,” he said.
Rajuk Chief Engineer Abdul Latif Helaly, who is also in the committee, avoided answering any questions from journalists about Rajuk's negligence in ensuring the implementation of the building code and fire safety measures at the FR Tower.
“We will submit an initial report within three days but the detailed report will be submitted after a thorough engineering assessment. Then, we will determine whether the building is vulnerable or structurally safe,” he said in response to another query.
TWO FR TOWER OWNER ON REMAND
SMHI Faruque, the land owner of the FR Tower in Banani and also an engineer, and Tasvirul Islam, one of the owners of the high-rise building, were placed on a seven-day remand each in the case filed over Thursday's devastating fire that killed 26 people.
The two, along with Liakat Ali Khan alias Mukul, 57, chairman of Rupayan Group, the builder company and leaders of the building management committee, and some unidentified persons, were charged for the death of people due to negligence.
Metropolitan Magistrate Sadbir Yasir Ahsan Chowdhury placed them on the remand after Md Jalaluddin, inspector of Detective Branch of Police and also the investigation officer of the case, produced them before the court to seek for ten-day remand each.
The case was filed with Banani Police Station by Sub-Inspector Milton Dutt.
In the case statement, he mentioned that the accused showed utter negligence to human life and property by violating building construction rules, by not keeping safe exits so that people can come to safety and not implementing fire safety measures.
“Such work led to the death of 26 people, the injury of over 100 others and the damage of properties of adjacent buildings,” the statement read.
The accused committed the offences as part of their ill motive to make financial benefit, it stated.
Detectives arrested Faruque, 65, from Bashundhara area early yesterday and Tasvirul from his Baridhara home late Saturday night. Tasvirul is the managing director and chief executive officer of Quasem Drycells Ltd, which had its offices in the building, police said. He is also the president of Kurigram BNP. 55454