DOHA: Public pressure is mounting on municipal authorities to publish in local newspapers the names of eateries and foodstuff stores that have been found breaking health and safety rules, according to a senior civic ministry official.
Umer Al Yafei, from the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning, said the law that permits his Ministry and various civic bodies to name and shame erring outlets only on their website is under study for a possible review.
There is a possibility the law may be amended to allow the Ministry as well as municipalities to publish the names of erring outlets in local newspapers.
There is increasing public demand to publish the names of erring outlets in the local dailies, said Al Yafei.
Currently, the legislation only permits the Ministry and the municipalities to post the names of these outlets on their websites.
“We are bound by the law so cannot publish their names in local newspapers,” said another official. Newspapers, however, are free to publish the name and shame reports sourcing them from the ministry or a municipality’s website, he added.
Heads of inspection departments from different municipalities, including Doha, Al Shamal, Al Wakra, Al Dhayeen, and Al Khor, among others, were at a Ramadan tent held by Al Sharq last Saturday.
Answering questions, Al Yafei said that the development of technology was coming to the aid of the civic ministry in a big way as people were becoming proactive and complaining against eateries and other health and safety rule violations through mobile phones.
People are sending in photographs and messages and these are very helpful in starting action against violators.
“The rapidly changing technology is, thus, bringing us closer to the people,” Al Yafei said.
The officials denied when told that there was an impression that sometimes erring outlets belonging to influential people are spared.
“This is not true. What happens is that sometimes violations are brought to our notice which are not in our jurisdiction to act against, so we inform the right people.
The time taken in initiating action, thus, creates the impression that the outlet is spared,” said an official.
For this reason, municipal inspectors have now begun conducting raids on outlets jointly with their counterparts from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.