Lao ministry to regulate petrol stations
VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) -The authorities will no longer approve the construction of fuel depots and petrol stations close to communities, key government offices, temples, rivers or television and radio stations, according to a new ministerial decision.
Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong, on June 18 put into practice the newly amended ministerial decision on technical construction standards for fuel storage facilities and petrol stations.
Under the regulation, fuel depots must be located one kilometre from residential areas, schools, hospitals, protected areas, temples and rivers. This new measure is aimed at preventing accidents and ensuring that such facilities do not cause harm to these compounds or people who live nearby.
In relation to petrol stations, these should be located 100 metres from residential areas, key government buildings, temples, and television and radio stations.
Petrol stations have become a popular business in Laos in recent years. But one of the challenges is that their construction has not been properly regulated.
A number of people have expressed concern over the possible impact of fires or other accidents at petrol stations, as some are located in residential areas while others are close to temples and rivers.
However, the regulation is unclear about what measures the Ministry of Public Works and Transport would impose on fuel depots and petrol stations that are located close to restricted areas.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport also wants any new fuel depot or petrol station to be built one kilometre away from an existing facility.
With regard to highways, the distance between two petrol stations should be 5 kilometres. It is believed this stipulation will encourage business operators to open new petrol stations in areas where none already exist.
One of the important standards that petrol stations must comply with under the regulation is to be equipped with a fire-fighting system. This means that water must be available for use in the event of a fire.
For proper use of the fire-fighting system, a petrol station must employ at least one person who has been certified as having completed a course in fire control, according to the regulation.
Petrol stations have come under the spotlight because the government wants to reform the industry.
The government recently announced a policy to reduce the number of fuel importers. In addition, business operators and enterprises who want to both import and sell fuel must hold two separate operating licences.