Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Regular inspections by local authorities have failed to curb law violations at karaoke bars in Hà Nội, heard attendees at a recent conference on managing karaoke bar operations.
According to Tô Văn Động, Director of Hà Nội Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, this stems from the fact that many inspections are carried out for the sake of performance.
“There are even cases wherein members of the inspection team give prior notice to the businesses subject to inspection,” he said.
Sudden inspections on karaoke bars across the city following a deadly fire at a karaoke bar in Hà Nội’s Cầu Giấy District earlier this month have revealed that most karaoke businesses do not satisfy regulations on running the service.
More than half out of nearly 1,200 karaoke bars in the city have oversized billboards that cover most of the building’s façade.
This poses an increased risk of fire, according to Hoàng Quốc Định, Director of Hà Nội Fire Prevention and Fighting Police Department.
“Sixty per cent of fires happening in the city are caused by electrical malfunctions, many of which stem from billboards. These boards also obstruct firefighters trying to enter a property when fire breaks out,” he said.
Other violations include operating without licences, poorly designed singing rooms, a lack of firefighting systems, or unsafe elevators. All 60 karaoke bars in Hai Bà Trưng District violated regulations, as well as 35 out of 36 karaoke bars in Hoàng Mai District.
The recent inspections also discovered cases of karaoke bars granted business licences even though they did not meet the necessary requirements.
Poor handling of the violations, which allowed bars to continue operations after paying a fine, is also to blame for the problem, according to Động, citing the accident at the karaoke bar in Cầu Giấy that left 13 people dead.
“One week before the fire, the multi-sector inspection team found violations at the bar and asked local authorities to impose punishment. However, the bar continued operating, resulting in lethal consequences,” Động said.
“I think the operation of all karaoke bars that do not meet regulations must be suspended right away. It will be very dangerous allowing them to pay fines and continue business as usual.”
However, local authorities said there was no legal grounds to stop their business.
“According to the law, district authorities are allowed to grant business licences to karaoke bars, but there are no regulations on revoking these licences,” said Nguyễn Văn Lợi, a representative from Chương Mỹ District.
To tackle the problem, Ngô Văn Quý, Vice Chairman of Hà Nội’s People’s Committee suggested district authorities impose determinate suspension to those violated businesses.
“Responsible district authorities can consecutively impose determinate suspension on them if they refuse to correct their violations,” he said.
Quý also asked local police to conduct more surprise inspections on karaoke bars, on top of the regular inspections by multi-sector inspection teams.
Local authorities should also act to stop businesses being given prior notice of an inspection, he said. – VNS