By: Shukria Kohistani
KABUL: In the wake of the Presidential Office’s increasing concern on the recent fires in commercial centers and fuel tanks, the Technical Committee for Fire Prevention has given a 20-day deadline to the owners to take safety measures to prevent fires or their centers and tanks will be closed.
“After the deadline, the committee warned to close the centers failing to take in mind the measures,” the Presidential Office warned.
Seyyed Nezam Pacha, Director General of the Interior Ministry’s Fire Department told media that the recent fires had raised concerns at the presidential palace and according to him, the president has instructed that all shopping centers and fuel tanks, countrywide should strictly follow the recommended measures relating to fire-fighting and the insurance company in order to preserve their assets and prevent blow to the country’s economy. Pacha added that fuel tanks and commercial centers have been given 20 days to take safety measures in accordance with the recommendations of firefighting, or the president will order the closure of commercial centers and fuel tanks.
According to him, shopping malls owners and petroleum tanks have been warned before, but since the issue is serious and safety precautions must be taken, they have been forced to move from “warning” into “action”.
Mohammad Qasem Haidari, Deputy State Minister to Emergency Situations, also said that in the past three years, the Technical Committee has overseen the presentation of fire prevention plans for 3,998 commercial centers and 248 fuel tanks, adding most of them have failed to observe minimal fire prevention measures.
Haidari cited Mandavi (the most crowd Kabul market) as an example, saying that it was one of the busiest and most vulnerable to fire in the capital and according to him, businesses are inseparably linked and use law-quality power cables, which are highly flammable. He said oil reserves in the flats of shopping malls are another problem that has increased the likelihood of fires.
The deputy minister noted that most of the fuel tanks in Kabul are substandard and with a little negligence there is a possibility of huge fire.
“A monitoring team has been formed by the committee, while examining the situation in the city, objectively communicates the necessary recommendations to the owners of commercial centers and oil tanks through a checklist,” he said.
Haidari went on as saying that the team had made a written commitment to the owners of the unions to take precautionary measures and if the measures were not followed, the committee would impose more fines on violators based on legislative documents, and the trade centers and oil tanks would be closed under the president’s direction.
Mohammad Fazel Sharifi, Deputy for Kabul Municipality for Cultural and Social Affairs, also said that a regulation on investigating construction violations had been enacted to prevent fires and that any building that is given a construction permit is required to comply with safety requirements. Meanwhile, Zubair Azimi, head of the regulatory body for oil and gas reservoirs, told a news conference that non-standard fuel tanks would no longer be licensed to operate and in addition, they could not obtain a permit unless the owners of the fuel tanks owned the consent of the relevant departments, such as the Kabul Municipality, the Environment and the Fire Department.
It is to be noted that during this year, several high-fuel tanks and commercial centers in Kabul have caught fire, leaving millions of Afghanis losses to the owners.