The Chattogram Metropolitan Police has identified 66 markets as risky and asked the shop owners' associations there to take measures to prevent fire at their respective establishments.
A letter, signed by Chattogram Metropolitan Police Commissioner Krishna Pada Roy and sent to shop owners on Tuesday, asked them to appoint a sufficient number of volunteers and security guards to guard the markets at night, especially after they are closed.
The police also asked the shop owners to ensure round-the-clock surveillance by installing closed circuit cameras at the markets.
The shop owners were also asked to keep adequate amounts of fire-fighting equipment, such as fire extinguishers, buckets, sand, and water, and ensure that the Fire Service vehicles can move to and from the markets without any hindrance.
Chattogram Biponi Bitan (New Market) Merchant Welfare Committee General Secretary Syed Khorshed Alam told TBS the fire extinguishing system at the market is not adequate and many shops there do not have fire extinguishers.
"We do not want accidents like the ones in Dhaka. Biponi Bitan has two reserve tanks, with which the situation can be handled initially. However, we have spoken to the Fire Service. With their cooperation, we will install fire extinguishers in every shop," he said.
Md Abdul Halim, deputy director of Chattogram Fire Service, said, "Letters have been sent to the authorities of Teribazar, New Market, Tamakumondi Lane, Zahur Hawkers' Market and other shopping malls in Chattogram. We visited the markets, but still did not see any change.
"Most markets have warehouses, but many of them do not have adequate water supply, and emergency exits. Even if the Fire Service reaches the spot, it takes a long time to bring the fire under control due to the narrow lanes and lack of reservoirs. Consequently, fire damages most of the products and traders suffer losses."