Gas refilling shops in Bahrain will be banned from operating in residential neighbourhoods after being described as ‘time bombs’ by the man behind the move.

The ban will be implemented across the country after first being proposed by the Southern Municipal Council, based on fears of gas leaks and the potential for explosions, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

It means all shops where gas cylinders and cookers are refilled will be forced to relocate from residential areas, after Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Essam Khalaf approved nationwide rollout of the ban.

‘When I first came up with the idea to remove these ‘time bombs’, gas cylinder and oven refilling shops, I was thinking about people’s welfare after several incidents in which Bahrainis and expatriates lost their lives or were badly injured in explosions in those shops,’ said Southern Municipal Council chairman Ahmed Al Ansari.

‘I understand people will say that gas cylinders and ovens are in every home, restaurant and apartment building, but that’s a maximum 10 on average per facility ‘“ not a stack of at least 100.

‘The ban will first see new requests (to open such businesses in residential areas) blocked by the computer system and later on existing shops will receive eviction notices.

‘They will have to move out of residential areas into those designated for services, which include garages and welding workshops.

‘The minister has asked us to work with the National Oil and Gas Authority on implementation and hopefully, by the end of the year, we will be able to achieve our target of removing this hazard from residential areas.’

In addition to the ban, Khalaf has tasked councillors with drawing up new criteria for the installation of gas cylinders in homes, restaurants and apartment buildings.

Councillors were given 30 days to present their proposals, after submitting a study to the ministry highlighting unsafe gas cylinder practices that currently exist.

‘Our study tackles improper installation in homes, restaurants and apartment buildings, where cylinders are either being stored under staircases or in boxes outside on the road,’ said Al Ansari.

‘There will be new criteria that we are working on which has to be ready within 30 days.

‘It will require co-ordination with the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Civil Defence, with some new technical requirements that may be applicable.

‘Among the criteria is having gas cylinders stored in a special secure room in apartment buildings, or in a special corner at homes and restaurants, while obliging everyone to install fire extinguishers.’

He added that gas cylinder installation requirements could be added in future to building permit criteria. ‘Leakages are dangerous and could occur, but if we confine it then minimum damage is expected,’ he said.

In addition to improving safety, the new guidelines are intended to tackle the issue of anti-government rioters stealing gas cylinders and detonating them during attacks on police.

‘We have to secure cylinders from being stolen or toyed with by children, they should be kept away from anyone who might misuse them,’ said Al Ansari.

The new rules are being introduced following a series of accidents involving gas leaks, one of which resulted in a blaze last May at a shop in Jurdab where people refilled gas stoves.

A customer and an employee were admitted to hospital with burns.

Source: Trade Arabia