Police Warn of Fire Risk as Residents Store Fuels

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Motorists buy petrol in plastic bottles from roadside resellers(Photo: Channapha Kook).

Residents of Vientiane Capital have been warned against stockpiling petrol in order to illegally trade with unsafe containers, which could result in a fire.

Lieutenant Colonel Khamphet Dalavong, Director of the Vientiane Fire Control and Prevention Department, told the media that hoarding petrol in plastic bottles or other flammable containers poses a significant fire risk. 

He said that storing fuel in a non-ventilated, hot, or humid environment could cause a rapid ignition, particularly if there are fuels, chemicals, or other highly flammable items nearby.

Authorities in the capital have appointed a taskforce that will warn and educate individuals who illegally sell petrol at roadside stalls. Aside from being illegal, authorities say such fuel vendors are also a public fire hazard.

An individual fills milk bottles with fuel.

Motorists across the country have endured fuel shortages for weeks, with early warning signs as Luang Namtha ran out of fuel in late March. The situation worsened in Pakse and Savannakhet, before finally hitting Vientiane Capital on 9 May.

Long queues stretching out into major roads – as well as lines of pedestrians filling plastic containers – have become a daily occurrence at petrol stations.

The fuel crisis is an indication that Laos’ financial problems are getting worse. Shocks caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine have worsened economic woes felt during the pandemic.

A rapidly depreciating currency has seen the country use up nearly all its foreign exchange reserves, leaving it unable to import enough fuel to meet the needs of its people.