Tragedy struck once again in Karachi as a six-storey apartment building near Ayesha Manzil became engulfed in flames, claiming three lives and leaving two injured. The incident, allegedly triggered by a short circuit in a shop, rapidly escalated, consuming the entire structure housing 250 shops and 450 apartments. While swift action from the Fire Department evacuated residents, the intensity of the fire and the damage to the structure raises concerns about potential building collapse.
This gloomy episode aligns with previous fire-related incidents, ringing alarm bells for much-needed city-wide reforms. The committee, led by the Karachi commissioner, must conduct a thorough investigation into the causes of the fire, holding accountable those responsible for this preventable tragedy. Concurrently, there’s an urgent need to fast-track the implementation of robust fire safety regulations and revamp the Sindh Building Control Authority. Outfitting the SBCA with comprehensive, regularly updated building codes covering structural integrity, fire safety and electrical standards in line with best practices is the need of the hour. Deploying qualified inspectors and engineers is crucial, ensuring meticulous assessments and transparent project approval processes. Regular inspections, audits and strict enforcement of zoning regulations will also help contribute to proactive hazard identification and prevention. As winter descends, the heightened risk of short circuits demands the government take the bull by the horns to avert such incidents.
The urgency of these reforms cannot be overstated, as each incident claims innocent lives and leaves families devastated. Karachi cannot afford to wait for more tragedies before implementing robust fire safety regulations. Lives are at stake, and the urgent implementation of reforms is crucial to ensuring the safety of the city’s residents. The probe committee’s findings should pave the way for immediate and comprehensive changes in Karachi’s fire safety landscape.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2023.