Muscat: As part of its campaign to protect the health and safety of consumers and residents, Muscat Municipality has cleared a number of areas along the seaside in Bausher where vendors are illegally selling Omani grilled meat, known as mashakeek.
Muscat Municipality, as well as the Municipal Council, said that those selling mashakeek must have a permit to ensure the public that they have undergone inspections.
A health inspection team has determined that sellers of mashakeek were violating laws and have seized all tools and materials used by illegal vendors.
According to a statement by the Muscat Municipality, the sellers were given two days to stop their activities, noting that using such equipment for a commercial activity in public places is illegal without a permit from the Municipality.
“This kind of activity is not compliant with health inspections and negatively affects the aesthetic appearance of the city, not to mention the health damage arising from the meat used,” the Municipality said.
Muscat Municipality raided the sites and seized all equipment, in cooperation with the Royal Oman Police (ROP) and Public Prosecution.
Ali Al Maashari, Head of the Health Committee at Muscat Municipal Council, said that grilling causes disturbances and poses a risk to the health of consumers.
“The danger is that while they are working without permits and preserving food and selling them in violation of the rules, the health of consumers of these food products is at risk,” he said.
He added that most vendors lack permits and violate municipal rules.
“A lot of groups are barbecuing randomly and in an unorganized way, without permits. They come together in certain places, which causes disturbances to the residential areas nearby,” Al Maashari said.
He noted that given that these vendors are randomly present at these sites, it makes it impossible for the Muscat Municipality to have control over the quality of the food sold. He added that the sector, including others selling their produce in different areas, needs to be regulated in order to ensure the health and safety of consumers and those living in the areas.
“The municipality is now thinking about regulating this sector, planning dedicated areas and issuing permits to all those who want to engage in this activity,” Al Maashari said. Areas most affected are North Al-Ghubra, Al Qurum, and Al Sarooj. “On most of these seasides, barbecuing is prohibited,” he said.
“I call upon the Municipality and other relevant parties to speed up the planning of dedicated areas where grilling may take place in a legal way,” he said.
Social media users in Oman say that while they understand that the sector needs to be regulated, they reject the Municipality simply clearing the area of vendors. Instead, vendors should be supported as they seek to make a living, they say.
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“Regulation and support for these guys is needed, not confiscation and raids”, a Twitter user said.
“Is there any other solution than to raid these sellers and force them to stop their activities?”
“There are people who depend on selling food for their income. The best solution would be to give them permits and explain to them the requirements,” someone else said.
“The Municipality should regulate their work and the government should help them in their development,” a Twitter user claimed.
But there is also support for the move. “Clearing those places is necessary. They are not using the proper equipment and no one knows where the meat comes from,” another Twitter user said.