Up to 150 petrol stations operating illegally in CyprusAudio version
A law regulating the operation of petrol stations dates back to 1968 and was last amended in 1999. “That law has outlived its purpose,” the head of the House Environmental Committee Adamos Adamou said. A new bill was proposed by the Commerce Ministry and is currently being looked at by the office of the Attorney-general, he said.
Adamou added there were between 100 and 150 petrol stations currently operating without a licence, “which means they have not been checked by the Public Works department and fire services and there is no guarantee they meet fire and safety standards”.
Adamou said that the petrol station association told the Committee that Cyprus needed 150 stations to serve the population’s need but had some 270. Adamou added that local authorities and municipalities allowed petrol stations to operate without a final approval from the Interior Ministry.
Asked how it was possible for over 100 petrol stations to operate illegally, Adamou said, “It is because of bureaucracy”.
The head of the petrol stations owners’ association, Stefanos Stefanou, agreed but said that the consequence was failing to get a licence over “minor issues”. “It might take us three years to get a licence to get a window,” he said. “In the meantime, strictly speaking you’re illegal”.
Stefanou said that there was currently a conflation of functions, with petrol stations being considered illegal for failing to get town planning permission to change their building’s specification and also for failing to meet, more serious, safety standards.
Stefanou said that the bill being considered would separate jurisdictions so that town planning issues were not conflated with safety and energy issues, the domain of the Commerce Ministry. He added however that to his knowledge most petrol stations did meet health and safety standards and were being checked.
Adamou said that the bill currently examined by legal services would reduce bureaucracy and make checks and getting licences more straightforward. It would also give the Commerce Minister the power to shut down illegal petrol stations immediately. “We should vote through laws which can be applied and not laws which are and are not being followed,” Adamou said referring to the smoking ban, which is not being strictly adhered to.
He said that the Environment Committee was keen to “produce a work and not be resigned to just talk”.