Nguyen, the owner of a karaoke parlor in HCM City, said he doesn’t know how to find an agency to verify the quality of materials used to upgrade the parlor.

He has been told by management agencies to replace planks to meet requirements on fire prevention, but he doesn’t know which agency will verify the new planks and what he needs to do to have the replacement certified.

“It is necessary to have materials verified in terms of fire resistance and noncombustible materials. Dozens of materials are used for one chamber,” he said.

“State management agencies have not specified the units that can provide materials and the units that verify materials. How can we find the right materials to satisfy the requirements?” he said.

Nguyen said this shows the confusion of state management agencies in implementing regulations on fire prevention and fighting at karaoke parlors.

The owners of many karaoke parlors have asked state management agencies to send staff to inspect facilities after the upgrade. However, no official has turned up yet. As a result, they cannot run business and have no other choice than to wait.

PC07 of the HCM City Police are in charge of inspecting fire prevention works at karaoke facilities, but district authorities will make decisions on whether to allow facilities to continue operation. No one knows which procedures one has to follow to reopen karaoke parlors.

Nam, the owner of a karaoke parlor on 3/2 Road, HCM City, said he has also fallen into a dilemma. He has completed the upgrade of eight items of the parlors as requested by state management agencies. The partitions in the chambers do not use flammable materials; there are protective masks in the chambers and in the corridor; and there is a system which automatically cuts off the sound of the entire karaoke parlor, and there are two exits.

“State management agencies have sent staff to the site to examine our facilities. However, we still cannot reopen the karaoke parlor,” he said. “I have been told to wait for the regulations to be released by the ministry."

Duong Manh Hung, the owner of a karaoke parlor on Trieu Viet Vuong street in Hanoi, said that repair began four months ago, after the design was approved by the appropriate agencies in fire prevention and fighting. 

Most items of the facility needed repair. He had to install independent exit stairs and an automatic fire warning system, and replace all materials with nonflammable materials.

“The repair was completed three months ago, but no appropriate agency has come to give official acceptance,” he said.

Dinh Hoang Thuy Duong of ICool karaoke chain in HCM City, said the police have requested to re-examine all karaoke parlors in the city under new standards stipulated in Circular 06/2022 released November 2022 and taking effect on Jan 16, 2023.

ICool was told by district officials that it has to ask for re-examination and approval within 30 days, or its operation license will be revoked.

Billions of VND wasted

State agencies have tightened regulations on fire prevention and fighting after some karaoke fire cases, including the ISIS parlor in Hanoi in August 2022 and An Phu in Binh Duong in September 2022.

However, they seem to be puzzled in setting up new regulations and don’t give detailed guidance on implementing the regulations, thus making karaoke parlors to incur big losses.

A representative of FYou estimated that retail premise rent costs VND 300 million, while repair cost VND10 billion. The chain has decided to shut down two out of four facilities.

As for ICool, repair costs VND4-6 billion for each facility. With 20 branches throughout the country, the total expenses are huge. Meanwhile, the chain doesn’t have revenue as the parlors cannot resume operation, and 600 workers and collaborators don’t have jobs for a long time.

Tran Chung