Dozens of illegal hostels surveyed after tragic fire on Merķeļa Street

The building on Merķeļa Street 8, where a tragic fire occurred at an illegal hostel at the end of April, has been fully taken out of utilization, while another 25 illegally operating hostels have been discovered in Rīga, the City Council told LSM's Latvian language service June 16.

Riga City Construction Board Chief Executive Jānis Belkovskis said that experts planned to cease operations in the building on Merķeļa Street 8 for the top floors only, but after the inspection it was decided that the building should be completely shut down and that the owner was asked to carry out preservation of the damaged structures within three months, as well as to provide a clear plan for the future of the building.

After giving instructions, the building was surveyed again, where it was concluded that the rules were not enforced and there were people in the building. In addition, another illegally run hostel was found in the backyard of the property during the survey.

RD informed that a total of 53 hostels were identified and surveyed in Riga since the fire: 28 of them were operating legally, while 25 had to be closed partially or completely due to various irregularities.

The construction board, in cooperation with the local government police, shall check whether the instructions are being complied with. Other buildings in which similar irregularities have previously been identified are also under investigation.

In order to be able to prevent potential hazards, the building authority has invited the State Fire and Safety Service (VUGD) to sign a memorandum of cooperation agreeing on operational information exchange and cooperation in the future.

The building board has also agreed with the Riga Municipal Police regarding access to the electronic log of the police in order to be able to follow the police checks in a preventive manner and to provide assistance as needed to stop the operation of an establishment.

In the context of the regulatory framework and its effective application, which would allow controlling authorities to forcibly suspend the operation of premises, meetings have been held with the Ministry of Economics. These meetings and the working group have led to negotiations on both the clarification of the definition of hostel and the promotion of inter-institutional cooperation, said the City Council.

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