Japanese expert with the local engineers have conducted systematic retrofitting construction work in a garment factory of Ashulia for the first time in the country to turn the RMG unit into earthquake resistance.
Retrofitting is a technology that could be used to make a vulnerable building earthquake resistant without demolishing it and usually it costs 30 to 40 percent of the new construction cost of the targeted building.
After the tragic incident of Rana Plaza, the Japanese government through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) initiated a project titled “RMG Sector Safe Environment Project” and created a Taka 100 crore fund with the Bangladesh Bank for financing the RMG owners to make their building safe for the workers.
Under the programme, JICA opened up the doors for the RMG owners to assess their factory buildings as well as to take the opportunity of the provided JICA fund to make the building strengthen.
As per the JICA’s call, a total of 300 RMG factories applied for being assessed and of these factories, 214 were selected for the assessment by another JICA’s project called “Capacity Development on Natural Disaster Resistant Techniques of Construction and Retrofitting for Public Buildings (CNCRP)”, implementing by Public Works Department (PWD).
The CNCRP project and DK Knitwear Ltd, a sister concern of DK Group taken initiative to conduct retrofitting by providing soft loan of 850,000 US dollar to the owner.
DK Managing Director Syed A.Q.M. Zahid said they were confident of structural safety as the factory was purposefully constructed as an industrial building.“But, our facility was constructed before formulation of BNBC 2006. We wanted to ensure that our facility remains safe due to seismic effects as per BNBC 2006. And for that we applied for the fund. JICA’s proposal through BKMEA/BGMEA with low rate of interest for long term grew our interest for the loan” he said.
Zahid hoped that the retrofitting works will have a positive impact on the RMG sector of Bangladesh as after the tragic incident of Rana plaza, workers were panicked and suspicious about any minor issues they came across.
However, he said it was indeed a mixed feelings where funds were planned for nonproductive heads and price for being compliant were not directly shared by any of the buyers, he said. ”All team members of this facility are confident about future prospect of this works,” he added.
JICA’s Senior Representative Hiroyuki Tomita said Japanese technology and experience to make building earthquake resistance can help Bangladesh to strengthen its vulnerable RMG buildings for avoiding any tragic incident like Rana plaza in future. The JICA will implement a large project soon to cover more vulnerable RMG buildings of the country, he said.
During the four-year CNCRP project (from 2011 to 2015), to be ended next month, the local engineers have been imparted training on different techniques of retrofitting technology from a team of JICA experts. Under the project, the Japanese experts and PWD engineers has already retrofitted the Tejgaon fire station to make an example.