HA NOI — Customers who use cell phones at petrol stations will now be fined up to VND5 million (US$240), a new Government decree has stipulated.
Decree 52/2012, which will take effect tomorrow, stipulates fines for many types of fire-related violations. The goal is to prevent and control explosions.
Those who use cell phones at petrol stations and near fuel storage and those who cut metal without taking preventive measures will receive the highest fines - between VND2-5 million ($96-240), the decree said.
Police and local authorities at district and grassroots levels will be in charge of spotting violations and fining the perpetrators.
Lieutenant Dinh Van Ngan, head of HCM City's Fire Prevention and Fighting Police Department told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the decree was necessary to warn people about the risks of cell phone-caused fires.
Ngan said the department would be responsible for educating people about the regulation. Tens of thousands of informational leaflets will be distributed.
"These educational efforts will be maintained after this Saturday, when the regulation takes effect, to ensure public awareness," he said.
Ngan added that petrol stations would be required to install signs banning cell phones and petrol staff and customers were encouraged to report violations to relevant authorities.
However, many have raised doubts about the feasibility of the regulation.
Tran Dai Dung, owner of a petrol station in the city's Cong Hoa Street, said many customers were talking on cell phones while having their vehicles filled up.
"We remind them not to, but they do what they want," he said.
Petrol buyer Nguyen Thuy Linh doubted that many violators would actually be fined. She said she knew the risks of using her cell phone at petrol stations, but she did it anyway.
Last December, a man in Ha Noi's Duong Xa Commune was hospitalised for being seriously burnt while talking on a cell phone at a petrol station in Long Bien.
Doctors of the city's Saint Paul Hospital said the 34-year-old patient suffered burns on 60 per cent of his body. This was the first time a cell phone user was burnt so badly he had to be treated in the hospital.
The decree also stipulates that those who bring matches, lighters, cell phones, electronic devices or tools that cause fire or heat to banned areas will be fined between VND100,000-200,000 ($5-10).
Those who use devices causing fire or heat without staying at the required distance will be fined VND500,000 ($25). — VNS