x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 October 2017

Importing and selling illegal fireworks ‘a growing problem in the UAE’

Authorities urged to stop the increasing trade in illegal and risky explosives.

Dubai Police are reminding the public that setting off illegal fireworks could cause serious injuries. Courtesy RAK Police
Dubai Police are reminding the public that setting off illegal fireworks could cause serious injuries. Courtesy RAK Police

DUBAI // Importing and selling illegal fireworks to the public is a growing problem, say companies licensed to use them.

They are urging authorities to enforce Customs checks to help tackle the problem.

“For correct use of fireworks, you have to have the knowledge on how to use them safely,” said Arthur Calanday, a supervisor at El Pyro Fireworks in Dubai.

“In other countries you can buy fireworks from [shops] but it’s not allowed in the UAE.”

Only licensed companies with the skills, training and safety procedures in place should handle fireworks, said Mr Calanday.

“I’m not sure where these illegal fireworks are being imported from but it is something that is becoming worse,” he said, adding that fireworks could only be used under strict guidelines.

“We use an electronic device to set off the fireworks and that must be done outside with at least 300 metres of space.

“I think one of the ways that they fireworks get through Customs is that they are sometimes mixed in with other things, like toys, so it is harder to detect.”

As part of efforts to crack down on the trade before Ramadan, Police are reminding the public of the dangers of fireworks and penalities illegal importers face.

Importers and retailers risk fines of about Dh10,000 and six months in prison if convicted.

“Fireworks can only be used by trained professionals who know the safety procedures and it is illegal to sell fireworks to the public,” said Brig Abdullah Al Ghaithi, Dubai Police’s director of protective security and emergency. “We are mainly focusing on importers of illegal fireworks because of the danger they are posing to people.”

These companies also store fireworks in insecure areas in some cases, he said.

“We are telling these people not to import these fireworks. If members of the public know of such companies, they should contact us and we will take action,” said Brig Al Ghaithi.

People risk potentially serious injury if they set off fireworks in an unsafe environment.

Dubai Police said its focus was on raising public’s awareness about the dangers.

“Many members of the public are unaware of the law relating to fireworks,” said Col Khalil Al Bishri, director of the Explosive and Security Department.

“During Diwali, for example, we have cases of even small children in the Indian community using fireworks. We feel that raising awareness among these communities will be better in the long run.”

He was speaking at the launch of Dubai Police’s “Stop! Stay Safe” fireworks safety campaign on Monday. Now in its third year, the campaign was launched after incidents in which members of the Indian, Pakistani and other communities were found to be setting off fireworks illegally.

“Most of the illegal imports are from the Far East and they pose a serious risk because, in many cases, they are faulty and do not meet basic safety standards,” said Col Al Bishri.

Parents would be held accountable for if children caught using fireworks, police warned.

A campaign booklet warns that about 30,000 people around the world suffer eye injuries each year because of fireworks, with a quarter of them suffering permanent loss of vision.

nhanif@thenational.ae