Muscat: Inhabitants of Barka took to social media to voice their concerns about public safety, following a huge stampede caused by people who were visiting an electronics store in the city that had announced discounts of up to 90 percent on goods.
With so many people from the surrounding areas turning up to the store to make of the most of the unbelievable discount, it was only natural there would be a commotion, and that is exactly what happened, when in their desperation to get the goods inside the shop, the packed crowds outside broke the glass door to the storefront, resulting in a stampede that caused dozens of injuries.
“I blame the store owner for what has happened,” said Yahya Al Harassi, who lives in Barka. “Those who are tasked with making sure legislation also need to regulate the arrival of customers in such cases.”
Salem Al Alawi added: “What was seen here today is very sad. I have to ask: who is responsible for making sure such events are properly organised?”
Mohammed Al Mukhaini, who often promotes local events through advertising and awareness, came forward and said that by putting up the post, he might have had something to do with causing the stampede.
“Although advertising can have a good impact on people, what happened today at the scene really bothered me,” he admitted. “I was in direct contact with the owner of the shop – I was the one who published clips of the promotional offers. For the first time in my life, I have seen such a massive response to my work, in the form of this massive crowd that gathered in front of the shop.
“The Consumer Protection Authority in Barka monitors our role…we have been held accountable for what had previously happened when we previously posted advertisements,” he revealed. “The authority takes its role very seriously.”
Al Mukhani added: “I will be held accountable for the credibility of the advertisement, not the organisation.”
In this context, Montaser bin Salam Al Harassi, the director of the Consumer Protection Authority in South Al Batinah, explained measures in place to deal with overcrowding, particularly in closed spaces.
“There are laws and regulations concerning discounts and promotions, and there are other organisations involved with the safety and security in commercial centres,” he said. “The authority’s role here is to approve the offering of discounts and promotions. We will make visits to the store to make sure all the necessary safety arrangements are in place, both before and after approval has been given.”
Al Harassi was speaking on Shabiba FM, the radio arm of Al Shabiba, the Arabic publication of the Times of Oman.
“The CPA monitors the credibility of adverts and ensures that there is a follow-up done for all advertisers, to make sure consumers are protected,” he added. “We will not accept them being misled or deceived by any means.
“If a store is offering certain promotions, then they must anticipate in advance the increase in customers as a result of the advertisement,” he explained. “He needs to ensure his store can accommodate a large number of customers, so that what happened today in Barka can be prevented.”
In the wake of the incident, Al Harrasi said that a proposal has been submitted by the Consumer Protection Authority, to regulate the roles of influencers posting promotional material and advertisements on social media.