There are around 21 restaurants at the stadium and this correspondent found at least three gas cylinders in each of them and that too without a fire-defusing system
The Gallery, Red Chilli, Sub Zero, Hunger Zone are not the names of gates or counters at the entrance of the Jatiya Krira Parishad-listed MA Aziz Stadium in Chattogram.
These are the restaurants at the gallery of the stadium that witnessed the first Test match win of Bangladesh against Zimbabwe in 2005, while, however compromising the safety of the people inside with gas cylinders.
There are around 21 restaurants at the stadium and this correspondent found at least three gas cylinders in each of them and that too without a fire-defusing system. One restaurant at the east gate was seen using six gas cylinders.
Though currently international cricket matches do not take place in the stadium, the biggest domestic tournament Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), which invites foreign players, is being staged here regularly.
The Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup is also held here and this month the tournament started with five foreign participating teams.
Though the restaurants are kept closed during international matches, they remain open during domestic matches and practices of foreign teams. But the threat from gas cylinders in the absence of a fire-extinguishing system persists even if they are not used.
Besides, every day hundreds of people come to the restaurants and the shops at the stadium even if no match or practice session is being held.
So, keeping gas cylinders at the restaurants is a serious threat to the security of the players and people, as these can blast anytime, according to Purno Chandra Mutsuddi, deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, Chattogram.
"A stadium requires a two-layer fire extinguishing system. But, the restaurants at the stadium do not have even a single-layer arrangement to defuse fire," said Purno.
Besides, fire extinguishing system a stadium requires additional safety precautions for players and visitors at the stadium, he suggested.
During a visit to Sakura Kabab, a restaurant at the stadium, our correspondent found four gas cylinders in the kitchen. Kamal Ahmed, proprietor of Sakura Kabab, said he has to use and store gas cylinders as there is no gas connection to his restaurant.
Former department head of Physical Education and Sports Science Department at Chittagong University AHM Rakibul Mawla said the environment of a stadium should be calm and quiet.
"No other countries except Bangladesh allow commercial shops and restaurants at their stadiums," he said, while adding that these establishments obstruct the open space and the good communication flow required for a stadium.
"Shops and restaurants threaten the security of the stadiums and the stadium authorities must ensure the security of the players and audience by taking steps against these commercial establishments," he insisted.
The Chattogram Zila Krira Sangstha, that supervises maintenance and security at the stadium claim there are 60 shops at the stadium. Shahabuddin Mohammad Jahangir, treasurer of the organisation told The Business Standard there was no rule and regulations regarding the types of shops at the stadium.
"We rent out the shops to anyone and some restaurants were set up here as early as the 80s," said Jahangir as he informed that the shops are closed one hour before an international match begins as per the direction of law enforcing agencies.
Mohammad Aslam Hossen Khan, deputy director of Jatiya Krira Parishad, said though the stadium has achieved international status, it lacks sufficient facilities.
After the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium was inaugurated in Chattogram, international matches were no longer arranged at MA Aziz Stadium, he added.
Zia Amanat Noyon, an expatriate in the Middle East, came to the stadium to enjoy a match of Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup-2019 and according to him there are no commercial shops at the stadiums in the countries he has visited.
"The stadiums in our country have turned into markets. Outsiders can easily enter the stadiums, as there are shops," said Noyon.
MA Aziz stadium gained the status of "Test Venue" in 2001, becoming the 82nd of its kind in the world. A total of eight test matches and 10 one day matches have been held in this stadium.