Nahda fire: Fifth day out of home for residents

Building owner claims pressure from bank and insurer

The agitated tenants of a building without power and water supply in Al Nahda area are jointly approaching Sharjah Municipality and Sharjah Police, after the building’s owner refused to make alternate arrangements for their stay.

The building’s residents -- some of whom have been living in their flats without water and electricity for four days while some have been living in their cars, public parks or with friends or relatives -- were upset by the attitude of the real estate company’s officials who told the tenants to disperse or else they would call the police.

“We are terribly upset because the building’s owner  did not make any alternate arrangements. They said legally the building’s owner is not bound to give anything to the affected tenants. They said they are doing everything on humanitarian grounds and said the building owner would call the police to disperse the crowd,” said one of the residents.

About 200 families, who lived in the 17-storey residential tower, have been living without water and electricity after the substation room in the building was damaged in a fire on Saturday morning.

“The tenants had a peaceful meeting with the building’s owner on Tuesday evening also. The building owner promised to restore water supply and make the lifts work with a power generator to help tenants relocate to other buildings or flats,” said Subhash, a resident of the building who spent two nights in his eighth floor flat without electricity and water.

“We could not use the toilet in our flat because there is no water.  I, my wife and brother had to depend on the public toilets in Al Nahda Park, Lulu Shopping Mall and other shopping centres in the area. We did not have any other place to go to, so we slept in the flat keeping the windows and doors open,” he added.

“After spending two horrible nights without water and electricity, we sought refuge in a friend’s flat. We had to struggle to reach the eighth floor by climbing the stairs which were not properly lighted,” he said.

Another family with a newborn baby slept in their car as they could not find alternative accommodation.

“There are old and sick residents who cannot cope with the heat and humidity. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the temperature reached between 45 and 50 degrees. Many bachelors and families tried to live in their own flats but could not do so. Some residents do not have enough money to look for alternative accommodation,” said some of the affected residents.

“My family is now living in my friend’s house. There is no piped gas, lift or water in our flat. I have stayed there without power and water for two days, using the public toilet in Lulu Shopping Mall and Al Nahda Park.  Real estate people are saying they will arrange water and repair the lift,” another resident said.

Building owner under pressure from bank, insurer and public prosecution

The owners of the 17-floor residential tower in Al Nahda area of Sharjah said they are unable to help the building’s stranded residents because of pressure from bankers who are seeking Dh2 million per month as their loan repayment and do not want to give any temporary relief to the building owner to help the tenants.

Lawyers representing Al Sawa Real Estate Company said they are unable to install a temporary power generator before the Sharjah Public Prosecution completes investigation into the cause of the fire that gutted the electrical room of the residential tower.

The Corniche Al Madina Supermarket Building in Al Nahda area has been without power and water for the last five days after a fire in the electrical room.
 “The Civil Defence has to give an investigation report to the Sharjah Public Prosecution. Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority or the insurance companies will not move any paper before the public prosecution completes its formalities. Without solving the insurance problems, we are not in a position to undertake expensive repairs of the electrical room. Union National Bank, which has financed the building, is insisting that it wants Dh 6 million in three months as loan repayment from the builder and they are not ready to give any temporary relief to the building owner,” legal sources handling the case said.

“If the banks and insurance companies allow, we can use the tenants’ monthly rent for helping them to rent hotel rooms or other temporary accommodation. We have limited options and tenants have been told that they can use the monthly rent to stay in other buildings, but if the cost exceeds the monthly rent, they have to bear the additional expenses,” they said.

“However, everything will depend on the decision of the Sharjah Public Prosecution and we are not in a position to do anything before that,” a legal source said.

“The building owner cannot install a temporary power generator because use of generators is not allowed in Sharjah. If Sharjah Public Prosecution allows, the building owner can install a generator in three or four days.  The building owner is worried about the Civil Defence’s forensic report and the Public Prosecution’s decision. He expects the Sharjah Government and Sharjah-based charities to help the residents,” he said.
“The insurance company is not ready to give any compensation without the clearance from the public prosecution,” he said.

Another option being considered by the building’s owner is to set up a big tent in the building’s compound to accommodate the tenants temporarily.

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