Hanoi karaoke bars disdain ban for lack of fire safety

By Vo Hai   July 9, 2019 | 11:05 pm PT
Hanoi karaoke bars disdain ban for lack of fire safety
A fire fighter is seen at the fire that killed 13 at a karaoke bar in Cau Giay District, Hanoi, in November 2016. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Hundreds of karaoke parlors on Hanoi’s outskirts ordered to be shut for not meeting fire safety regulations continue to operate openly. 

Authorities had notified more than 500 of them after a fire at a karaoke bar in Cau Giay District in 2016 claimed 13 lives.

But the police have recently found more than 300 still operating as usual, People’s Council chairwoman Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc said at a meeting with district authorities on Tuesday.

They are mostly in outskirts districts like Dong Anh, Thach That and Me Linh, she said, adding that the police and culture department should work together to "strictly" deal with the violators.

To Van Dong, director of Hanoi's Department of Culture and Sports, said the city has more than 1,600 karaoke parlors but only around 500 of them fully meet legal requirements.

Since the deadly fire in 2016 the department has inspected nearly 400 karaoke parlors and slapped fines of more than VND1 billion ($43,000) on violators.

It then apprised local authorities of the situation, and asked them to either close down the offenders or keep close watch on them, but some districts have failed to do so.

Le Trung Kien, chairman of Dong Anh, said the district has more than 100 karaoke parlors but only 36 of them fulfill legal requirements and the rest have been ordered to shut down.

Tran Duc Nguyen, chairman of Thach That, said in the first six months of the year the district discovered 16 violations by karaoke bars and fined them nearly VND200 million ($8,600).

It is considering seizing their equipment.

Hanoi has tightened fire safety regulations for karaoke bars and nightclubs and stopped issuing new licenses since the fire in November 2016.

The fire broke out at a karaoke lounge on Tran Thai Tong Street, Cau Giay District, a popular entertainment hub, and quickly spread to three others. It also destroyed a number of vehicles.

The investigation concluded that the blaze began when a welder, Hoang Van Tuan, accidentally set fire to a billboard in the first karaoke parlor.

The owner of the place, Nguyen Dieu Linh, was held responsible for for poor supervision of Tuan and sentenced to nine years in prison last year. Tuan received seven years as did Le Thi Thi, who hired him despite knowing he was not a professional.

In the first half of this year there were 270 fires in the city, which killed 14 people, injured 21 others and caused losses of more than VND40 billion ($1.72 million).

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