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05 December 2023

Burnt-out tower residents reject owner's offer

By VM Sathish

Residents of Al Bakr Tower that went up in flames five days ago are being offered alternate accommodation in another building by the owner. However only a few families, with longer tenancy contracts, are taking up the offer. Majority of the victims are looking at other options as they find the place too small and unsafe.

Fifty per cent of tenants are going ahead and moving out to safer buildings even as they are not sure if their rents will be refunded or if they will receive any insurance cover.

Only 50 out of the 150 families affected by the blaze have received help from charities, one resident of the tower told 'Emirates24|7'.

The residents, however, are heaving a sigh of relief as the Sharjah Police is now allowing them inside their homes to collect whatever is remaining of their belongings. Two cops accompany residents on their trip to their once-upon-a-time homes. "They lock the rooms after the tenants take out their stuff," said Sudeesh, a resident of a 10th floor flat.

Meanwhile, there is new-found camaraderie among tenants of the charred tower. They are grouping to press for their demands and there is an increased level of social interaction among the affected residents.

"We did not know many families who lived in the building. But now we are all together and are planning to file a case against the building owner because the fire alarm system did not work and the sprinkler system too failed to operate," said another ex-resident of the tower, who has been living with his friend in Dubai since the fateful day.

Commercial establishments such as pharmacies and a gymnasium that operated on the ground floor of Al Bakr Tower will remain closed until police investigation is over.

Representatives of insurance companies are said to be monitoring and evaluating the remanants of the building to determine the actual cause of the fire. 

Meanwhile, transport and packing and mover companies are making hay.  "At least five transport and furniture moving companies are having a good deal as most families are trying to find safer accommodation in other parts of Sharjah. We are taking out the remaining furniture, packing them and moving to other buildings,” said Imran, an employee of a movers company based in Sharjah.