With reporting from Ankita Menon
Updated at 8am on March 5 with more information about the gas ban.
Several eateries at Abu Hamour Petrol Station and elsewhere have been instructed by the government to modify their kitchens to operate with electric stoves instead of LPG, managers have told Doha News.
The instructions have prompted the temporary closure of some outlets, and come following a gas explosion atop a Turkish restaurant near Landmark Mall last Thursday. The accident claimed the lives of 11 people and left 35 injured.
The changes are being made as the call to improve safety standards at petrol station eateries grows louder. Employees said the instructions came from officials representing the Doha Municipality and Woqod, which supplies LNG tanks here.
When asked for comment by Doha News, the Baladiya referred questions to Civil Defense – which published this notice on Wednesday morning:
Law No. 9 of 2012 was passed shortly after the deadly Villaggio fire and gave Civil Defense more power to enforce safety standards in Qatar.
In an addition to the ban on gas cooking in petrol stations, the law mandates fire alarm systems in all buildings and Civil Defense approval starting from the design phase of a building.
As Qatar moves to enforce this law, restaurant employees have said testing and operating new cooking equipment has disrupted their service.
Earlier this week, several restaurants at the Abu Hamour Petrol Station, which contains nearly two dozen shops, were closed. Among those who had been ordered to replace their gas-cylinder powered stoves with electric cooking equipment were Papa John’s, KFC and Pizza Hut, as well as DQ Grill ‘n’ Chill.
Gregg Fernandez, assistant manager of DQ, spoke about how his restaurant was affected by the sudden instructions.
“We faced losses as a result of the transition because we are yet to try out the equipment and test it, so it was hard to serve our customers instantly,” he said.
DQ Grill ‘n’ Chill, however, is now back in business. Other restaurants at Abu Hamour Petrol Station, including Hardee’s and Burger King, remained closed today.
Speaking to Doha News, Hardee’s manager Mostafa Matar said the branch is expected to open within three days. It is taking more time because his venue operated mainly with gas-fueled equipment, compared to other outlets.
Installing electric-powered stoves is a process that requires the cooperation of Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa), and it will take a few days for the change to go through, Matar added.
Burger King’s manager gave a similar response, but said he is not sure when his outlet will re-open.
The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, added:
“The municipality must make checks even after we install the new equipment, so it will probably take more time than we had originally anticipated – but it’s affecting our jobs and sales here.”
According to restaurant managers, the Doha Municipality and Woqod officials have been making frequent checks and visits since the day after the blast.
Matar reported that Woqod officials were on site on Monday to install the new electric equipment.
“The company came to retrieve our gas cylinders and we were asked to wait to receive the electricity-powered stoves to resume operations,” he said.
Woqod was not immediately available for comment.
A senior official at the municipality told the Peninsula that a “higher committee” has been appointed to study safety issues that could arise from having too many eateries and outlets close to petrol stations, and any decision to relocate these shops would depend on the results of this study.
The newspaper added that the committee would consider several options when dealing with the situation, including, possible canceling the restaurant licence or imposing new rules requiring a shift from the usage of gas cylinder to electric stoves.