Businesses find the cost of meeting new fire safety standards exceed that of building a new factory since many of the prescribed materials have to be imported.
Tran Van Hung, the chairman of Tan Thanh Container Corp, which manufactures, sells and leases containers, said the cost of building a new factory is only VND1.2 billion (US$51,000) while the new fire safety standards cost VND1.5 billion.
“In the current economic situation we do not know where to get that money,” he said at a recent company meeting that discusses the new policy.
Fan motor manufacturer Nidec Vietnam plans to renovate its 500-square-meter warehouse.
It had estimated the cost at VND800 million before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has now gone up six times to VND5 billion to meet the new fire safety standards.
“We do not have the money,” a company spokesperson said.
In the last 18 months the Ministry of Construction has issued three circulars on improving fire safety standards, and these have caused businesses great difficulty, Ly Kim Chi, deputy chairwoman of the HCMC Union of Business Association, said.
For instance, they require a factory of 3,000-5,000 square meters to have a 400 cubic-meter water tank to put out fires, which costs a lot of money, she said.
They require businesses to use fireproof materials, which are not available in Vietnam and have to be imported at high cost, she said.
Le Trong Lap, deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing Zone and Industrial Park Authority Business Association, said fireproof glass is required to be used in construction but no Vietnamese company makes them.
The requirements should be amended to fit Vietnamese manufacturing capabilities, he said.
Kieu Huynh Son, deputy chairman of the HCMC Association of Mechanical – Electrical Enterprise, said fire safety regulations should be different from sector to sector since some have lower risks of fire than others.
Even foreign companies are struggling to meet the new standards, he added.
The government earlier this month instructed local administrations bodies to mitigate the problems businesses have in complying with the new regulations.
The HCMC Police Department on April 11 gave permission to businesses to continue construction based on old norms if it was approved before the changes took effect.
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