DOHA: Authorities have asked eateries in petrol station premises to immediately stop use of gas cylinders and tanks for cooking food and replace them with electric burners or ovens, reportedly in 10 days.
The move follows the gas tank explosion in Istanbul Restaurant in a petrol station complex near Landmark Mall last Thursday that killed 11 people and injured 35 others.
A source at a Turkish restaurant in Abu Hamour petrol station, which houses more than a dozen eateries, told this daily yesterday that all these outlets have been asked to stop use of cooking gas. “We have been asked to replace gas with electricity in 10 days. The order came on Sunday. Now we are serving only barbeque (cooked on charcoal) ,” said the source.
He said for changing to electricity, the process has to be completed through the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa).
Sources from another popular restaurant at West Bay Petrol Station said eateries there had also received similar instructions.
Thursdays’ blast led to a public outcry over the safety of restaurants in petrol station premises.
A senior official of the Doha Municipality told this daily that a higher committee has been appointed to study safety issues arising from the existence of too many eateries and fast food outlets in petrol station premises.
Asked if the municipal authorities had any plans to relocate eateries from petrol station premises, in the wake of the Istanbul Restaurant blast, Mohammed Al Sayed, director of the Doha Municipality said: “The accident is under investigation but regarding the existence of restaurants and other outlets at petrol stations, we understand people’s concerns and we are deeply concerned about their safety.
Currently, a study is underway, in collaboration with other bodies concerned to decide what measures are to be taken in this regard. Based on this study, it will be decided whether to relocate such facilities or not.”
Another official, Mohammed Sayed, who is head of the health monitoring section at the Doha Municipality, added that the higher committee would consider various options — cancelling the licence, relocating the facilities or forcing them to shift to electricity-powered stoves.
He said a decision would be taken, without ignoring the importance of having such outlets in easily accessible locations.
Al Sayed said his section had provided the municipality with information about the number of petrol stations and the food outlets there. “As the health monitoring section, our job is to inspect the eateries and other food outlets from inside, how they prepare and store food, whether they meet the health requirements, facilities, hygiene etc. Monitoring gas cylinders and safety aspects is the responsibility of the Civil Defence and Woqod and they are doing that,” he added.
He said the amended food monitoring law will be enforced once the executive regulations are issued. The erring food outlets will face closure straight away up to 60 days, according to the amended law.