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DOHA: Plans are afoot to run checks on all buildings in the country, whether public or private, residential or commercial, to see their compliance with safety requirements as part of a nation-wide drive to ensure safety of life and property.
To help achieve the above end, Qatar is amending the legislation that regulates the safety of buildings (Law Number 13 of 1997) and breach of its violations is being made a criminal offense.
In the existing law, violations of its provisions are not cognizable offense. They are made cognizable offense because they pose threats to people’s lives as well as to property.
A draft of the amended legislation has been forwarded to the State Cabinet and its approval is awaited, local Arabic daily Al Watan reported yesterday quoting a senior Civil Defense official, Colonel Ibrahim Al Muftah.
Once the amended law is in force, all buildings in the country, whether new or old, residential or commercial, public or private, will be required to have emergency fire exits, spacious passageways to these exits, emergency staircase and the walls must be fire-proof. Storage areas in buildings must be safe.
The fines that have been recommended in the amendments for breach of the provisions of the new law have been specified at between QR5,000 and a staggering QR200,000.
Buildings that do not comply with the new rules and do not rectify their situation even after warnings will be referred to court or they could even be seized.
Licenses of old buildings will not be renewed unless they amend their engineering designs to comply with safety requirements.
Al Muftah said that the Civil Defense teams have been conducting raids on shopping complexes to check their compliance with safety norms.
The teams have discovered to their horror that even some prestigious shopping complexes do not show full compliance with safety rules.
“We have found severe violations in these places and there are some violations of safety rules that pose a severe threat to visitors. In such cases we have given only 24 hours’ time to these facilities to rectify their situation,” said Al Muftah.