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21 April 2024

Tamweel Tower blaze: Insurance issues unsolved

By Majorie van Leijen

Residents of the fated Tamweel Tower have moved on with their lives, although certain issues remain unsolved.

Six weeks later, a burnt husk is all that remains of the once bustling tower in the popular Jumeirah Lakes Tower community.

Driving past at night the lights are on in the reception area, and there are security guards patrolling the building. At first glance all seems well within the compound.

But life will never be the same for those who were chased out of their apartment on the night of the fire. Everyone seems to have moved on with life, but with little knowledge of what will ever be retained, and when.

“We were told that nobody will be allowed to move back into Tamweel Tower (even if their apartments were unharmed by the fire) until the building is repaired and declared open (no expected end date announced).

“Therefore all the tenants / apartment owners scambled to book slots to remove their personal effects from the apartments through the few elevators that are operating, that too with the help of lift operators.

“Accordingly, we cancelled our tenancy contract, moved our personal belongings out and have now moved to another rented apartment nearby,” tells a residents who used to occupy one of the higher floors.

After one month of hotel accommodation, which was organized by Tamweel Tower, residents have now tried to set up life again. Surendra Nayar, owner of an apartment and Owners' Association Board Director for the tower has done the same, and also opted for a nearby alternative; an apartment in JLT.

"I rented the apartment for a year," he tells, adding that residents had raised the question how long reconstruction of Tamweel Tower would take.

"I wish I knew, but this depends on a lot of factors. It might take six months to a year."

According to Nayar, the rush and panic among residents is over and most people have moved on with their lives. "In the first couple of weeks after the incident a lot of residents had a lot of questions, which we as an OA board were not able to answer. But this seems to be over now."

However, concerns are still there among residents about the insurance coverage, which has until now not officially been clarified.

During the first month residents were directed to move into hotel apartments, which were to be paid for by the insurance company, but had to be paid in advance by the residents themselves.

Bills added up to Dh10,000 and more and there were residents who had to take out loans to be able to make the initial payments.

Before the month was over, residents received the news that reimbursements would only be made towards apartment owners who occupied a space in the tower, and tenants would have to bear the costs themselves.

Until now, neither owner nor tenant has received the reimbursement. "Ever since we moved to the new apartment I have asked the building management company several times about how we are to claim for refund of the 1 months’ rent of Dh10,000 and each time I was told that the company will send us SMS or email messages regarding this.

"However no SMS or email has been received by me yet and I am now hoping and praying that eventually I do not have to suffer a loss."