Shop owners and their employees stand in line to enter Bashundhara City Shopping Complex in Dhaka yesterday to check out their outlets, three days after a fire burnt about 100 shops at the mall. Photo: Amran Hossain
Star Business Report
About 100 shops gutted by a fire at Bashundhara City Shopping Complex are unlikely to reopen before Eid-ul-Azha as it will take more time to clean up the debris and restore the outlets.
The mega shopping mall known as one of the nest in South Asia caught fire in Saturday morning when shoppers just open their shutters and report said the fire had originated from a show store on level 6.
At first Bashundhara's own fire fighters tried their best and then called in Fire Service to extinguish the fire. But it left top three floors mainly devastated with some showrooms totally gutted. The mall also caught fire on September last year and twice in 2009 - first in March and then in August. In the first fire seven Bashundhara fire fighters died while trying to douse fire.
Many wonder why fire hit the sprawling mall time and again as shoppers are losing their entire investment in such devastation where there is none to take responsibility to return businessmen's investment and help them to build business again.
Two committee - one set up by Fire Service and the other by Bashundhara management are investigating into the cause of the fire.
The main concern now is to reopen the mall before the EId-ul-Azha. "We are working with the authorities of Bashundhara mall in trying to reopen the market in a day or two," MA Hannan Azad, president of the association, said yesterday.
But the shops burnt by the fire on Sunday on Block C of the mall's sixth floor will take longer time to resume sales, he added.
What caused the fire is still unknown and losses are estimated to be around Tk 50 crore, according to Azad. Fire service officials and mall authorities are yet to assess the extent of losses caused by the blaze.
Mall authorities yesterday allowed shop owners to enter and check their shops and take necessary steps.
Ajit Kumar Bhowmik, deputy director of fire services (planning), who is also the head of a five-member probe committee formed by the department, said the panel visited the spot and is working to identify the reason behind the fire.
"We are assessing the extent of damage to the traders. We need three to four more days to calculate the loss."
Firefighters continued their work at the multi-storey mall to assist the shoppers to clean up the burnt-out goods, said Jasim Uddin, the mall's head of marketing. A trader on the sixth floor, said he had imported shoes worth around Tk 2 crore in three shops to sell ahead of Eid. "Everything in my three shops was burnt. The fire ruined everything. I don't know when I will be able to reopen my shops."
Synthetic and polythene objects were burnt inside the shops, which made it difficult for firefighters to determine any hidden blaze. According to fire service officials, as many as 29 fire engines were used in the operation. Eleven people, trapped on the rooftop, were rescued unharmed.
The Bashundhara mall, one of the biggest in Bangladesh, houses about 2,300 shops in addition to food courts, Cineplex and gymnasiums.
This is the fifth fire incident at the market and the adjacent 20-storey building, which has been used as Bashundhara's office since 2009, according to shop owners and employees.