Reporter: Muhammad Al-Nasser
Journalist Muhammad Al-Nasser discovered hundreds of dangerous and unlicensed gas stations throughout the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, operating because state agencies are ignoring health and safety laws.
Yemen’s Republican Decree No. 80 of 1993 sets regulations that gas stations must follow in order to get operating licenses. However, the law is being ignored amidst the chaos of civil war.
According to a recent study by the Yemeni Gas Company, the number of illegal gas stations in Sana’a has surged from three from before war broke out in 2014 to 647 now.
A randomly conducted inspection of 180 gas stations found that 98 percent did not have fire extinguishers, even though their reliance on electric generators increases fire risks. None provided protective clothing for employees.
Over the past two years, 10 major gas station fires have injured and killed people. Many stations are located in residential areas near schools and other buildings.
Civilians’ complaints to the Yemeni Gas Company and station officials have been met with accusations and denials of responsibility. The gas company refers complaints to the Sana’a Municipality, which in turn considers the Civil Defense responsible for removing illegal stations. The Civil Defense claims that the war has left it without resources, and nothing can be done.
As stations and their owners’ profit increase, the price of a 20-liter tank of household gas has more than tripled over the past two years. The owners include “influential personalities” who want them to remain according to one official at the Yemeni Ministry of Gas, who spoke only anonymously to reporters.
This investigation was completed with the support of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) with coach Mohammed komani.