All photos by Peter Kovessy
A popular petrol station on C-Ring Road that closed last September after an apparent explosion may re-open as early as this fall.
Work crews are currently razing the old Al Andalus Petrol Station. On Sunday, roughly half a dozen large rusted fuel tanks could be seen being excavated from the property, located at Al Rawabi Street.
Workers on the site told Doha News that every piece of equipment on the property – including the canopy and pumps – would be replaced in time for the station to reopen in three or four months.
The redevelopment plans will likely be welcome news to motorists in the area, where lineups at the few remaining petrol stations during peak periods are a frequent sight.
Last autumn’s explosion caused the ground to collapse and damaged at least two cars, but did not result in any injuries.
No official explanation of what caused the blast was given, although it was said to be related to maintenance work. Several days after the incident, Central Municipal Council chairman Saud bin Abdullah al Hanzab said the station was less than a decade old and that the incident raised questions about the safety of other petrol stations around Qatar.
Speaking to the Qatar Tribune at the time, he said:
“They are a time bomb. Anything could have happened after the tanks suddenly caved in. We wish to avoid these things and want that the new designs avoid these things and situate the stations far away from neighborhoods…
The older stations could be more dangerous. Periodic maintenance of gas stations and their storage tanks is a must to avoid such incidents.”
Those concerns were raised again earlier this year following a deadly gas explosion inside a restaurant at a petrol station near Landmark Mall. CMC officials once again called for these fueling stations to be located away from commercial complexes and neighborhoods.
The Al Andalus Petrol Station property – which also featured a mosque, a pair of three-story retail/office buildings and a car wash, all of which have been closed since the explosion – is owned by Mohammed Hamad Al Mana Group.
No one from that company could be reached for comment on Sunday afternoon, and workers on the site said they were not aware of the plans for the rest of the property, which still has dust-covered signage advertising a Subway, Baskin-Robbins, a pharmacy, a travel agency and a small supermarket.
A pharmacist who answered the phone at Al Aqsa Pharmacy’s other location said the company has plans to reopen at the petrol station, but did not know when that would happen.