RAJUK is the most corrupt agency: Restaurant owners

The Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association (BROA) has accused the government agencies of extortion in the name of conducting drives in restaurants following the Bailey Road fire.

The leaders of the organisation claim different government agencies are extorting arbitrarily by intimidating the restaurant owners. They also alleged that the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) is the most corrupt agency of the country.

They made these remarks during a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity auditorium Monday.  The press conference was organised in protest of the ‘chaos in the restaurant sector driven by the raids conducted by government agencies following the fire at the multi-storey commercial building Green Cozy Cottage that led to a crisis.’  

Restaurant Owners Association secretary general Imran Hasan presented a written statement at the press conference. The statement reads, “According to the law, a notice has to be issued at least six months before closing down a commercial establishment. However, the government agencies are vandalising and closing down restaurants without any prior notice. The anarchy going on in the name of Rajuk’s F-1 and F-2 is by no means acceptable. As far we know there is no bar in using a commercial space for restaurant business.  The owners have been encouraged to use the building for multipurpose.”

It further states the process of getting license has been made lengthy and complicated to force the owners to get it by illegal means. The association also demands bringing all restaurants under one agency to provide licenses. They say the required documents for the license are not realistic and it’s not possible to arrange all the documents.

In response to a query from a newsperson, Imran Hasan said, “Why will the owners bear the liability of the mismanagement of government agencies? The process of registration is so complicated that the businesspersons have to face obstruction at every phase. When we move to the fire service, they ask for the clearance from the environment department and the environment department then ask for permission from the RAJUK. This goes on.”

He also claimed that the government agencies are vandalising restaurants in the name of drives. He said, “The government agencies are intimidating the restaurant owners in the name of conducting drives and demanding extortion.”

Imran Hasan further said, “Dhaka has turned into a city of garbage due to the failure of the RAJUK. It is the most corrupt agency in the country. It’s not fair to pass the liability of their failure on to the business owners. Why are actions not being taken against the officials who failed to discharge their duties.”

Restaurant Owners Association president Osman Gani said, “We are being provided with the license and paying the gas, electricity and water bills at commercial prices. We have been running businesses for five years. Why couldn’t you see the flaws earlier? Now you are vandalising and closing down restaurants without any prior notice. It is inhumane.”

The leaders of the association also placed several demands, including formation of a high-power taskforce consisting of experts to identify risky buildings and to develop a standard operating procedure and bringing all restaurants of the country under a single organisation for license.

The association also demanded for stopping ‘this farce’ of closing down restaurants during Ramadan. Otherwise, they will form a human chain in protest of this and will place a memorandum addressing the prime minister. Besides, the association would call for a symbolic strike of restaurants across the country on a regular basis, the leaders of the association added.

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