Hundreds of people participated on Friday evening in a march commemorating the 64 young people who died two years ago, on October 30, in a fire in the Colectiv night club, in downtown Bucharest. 27 died in the night of the tragedy, while the other 37 died later on, in hospitals in Bucharest and abroad.
The fire broke out during a concert by the rock band “Goodbye to Gravity”. The lead singer of the band has survived. The participants in the commemoration march, relatives and friends of the victims, as well as people who knew them, walked silently, dressed in white T-shirts impressed with photos of the victims or simply carrying photos of the victims, candles and flowers. They wanted to show that they will never forget the people who died, and also to deplore the authorities’ incapacity to find the culprits. Although the tragic event was followed by large-scale rallies against corruption in local and central administration, the street protests only led to the resignation of the government led by the Social Democrat Victor Ponta. However Ponta’s resignation was not enough for all the problems of the system to be solved. A participant in Friday’ rally shared his opinion with us:
“Unfortunately, few things have changed. At political level we saw the resignation of the prime minister, but from a technical point of view not much has been done, in the sense that all they did was to close down a couple of clubs that were not authorized and to issue a couple of regulations in this regard.”
The authorities claim however that changes did occur after the Colectiv fire. The number of applications for certificates and fire safety authorizations has increased by almost 85% in the past two years, according to data provided by the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations. Over 23,000 clubs, bars, discos, shopping malls, restaurants and stores have been inspected by fire fighters. Of them, more than 100 have been closed down and 350 have suspended their activity.
As far as the healthcare sector is concerned, changes have been insignificant. And not only has the shortage of staff, medication and equipment remained the weak spot of the public healthcare system, but the situation has become even worse. Romanian hospitals can now provide treatment and care to only 11 people suffering from major burns, as compared to 10 in 2015. Doctor Raed Arafat, the head of the Department for Emergency Situations, admits that many things are still to be improved.
Raed Arafat: “We have managed to refurbish the Burn Hospital in Bucharest, but we cannot say that we have a higher capacity now as compared to what we had before. On the contrary, sometimes we have problems finding places to treat severe burns in hospitals all over the country, so this problem is quite urgent.”
Many had hoped that corruption and superficiality, the underlying causes of the Colectiv tragedy, would be eliminated. However, apart from several isolated legislative amendments, nothing has actually been done.
(translated by: Lacramioara Simion)