Roadblocks create gridlock after Siddique Bazar building blast

RAJUK is still working to stabilise the building with support beams

Published : 10 March 2023, 12:42 PM
Updated : 10 March 2023, 12:42 PM

City authorities have shut one side of the road in front of the Cafe Queen blast site in Old Dhaka’s Siddique Bazar, causing traffic congestion on the other side as commuters and pedestrians struggled to pass through.

When the road would be cleared for normal passage of traffic remained uncertain as the fatal building still needed to be “stabilised” following the damage caused by the deadly blast that killed 22 people.

Four days after the blast, people still thronged the location on Friday with barricades placed on the road. The building was sealed off as the Dhaka South City Corporation marked it as a risky zone.

Rangan Mondal, a member of RAJUK’s technical committee, said the building’s resistance to tremors caused by vehicles could be determined once the support beams were placed.

“We’ve placed five support beams outside so far. But we’ve not been able to place beams inside.”

Traffic was moving through the east side of the road and the barricaded part would be opened once the technical committee greenlighted it, said Mujibur Rahman, chief of Bangshal Police Station.

A massive explosion ripped through the seven-storey building on North South Road on Tuesday as the first two floors collapsed on the basement. Rescuers pulled 20 bodies from the wreckage and two others died in hospital care.

The fire service and police were still at the site.

Dinomoni Sharma, deputy director at Bangladesh Fire Service & Civil Defence, said: “We’re not conducting rescue operations now but we’re at the site for emergency response.”

The building was owned by Rezaur Rahman who opened a restaurant, Cafe Queen. The now-shuttered restaurant is on the second floor. Though the restaurant has been closed for several years, locals still refer to the building by the name of the restaurant.

Rezaur died a long time ago and his three sons inherited the building. One of the sons, Mashiur Rahman, lives abroad. The other two, Wahidur Rahman and Matiur Rahman, looked after the building.

“After stabilising the building, we’ll need 45 days to confirm whether it is suitable for retrofitting,” Rangan said. “If it is, it will take at least another year to retrofit.”