Lights out for businesses in Karama building

Al Zarooni Building in Karama has no electricity since one month following a dispute between the owner and the real estate agency. (Joseph George)

Al Zarooni Building in Karama has no electricity since one month following a dispute between the owner and the real estate agency.

While Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has disconnected electricity supply to the building pending payment, tenants allege the real estate firm, managing the complex, collected the payment from them. But, according to the real estate agent, their contract with the landlord ended in 2009.

Owners of companies told 'Emirates 24|7' that Dewa disconnected electricity supply in December for non-payment of about Dh128,000 bills.

Five companies, including a money exchange firm, operating from the building said thier business has dropped by almost 75 per cent. The ground floor of the building is completely leased out to businesses.

However, residential apartments in the building have not been affected.

“The City Tower Real Estate Agency, which managed the apartment has collected our payments for the whole of last year. If we have no electricity today it is because of them,” said Sobha Menon, Chief Manager at City Exchange.

An official of City Tower, meanwhile, said it has stopped managing the building since 2009. “Our contract with the landlord ended in 2009. We are not responsible for any payments,” the official said. But tenants said they have documented evidence to prove that the agency collected rents, which included water and electricity charges until end-2010.

Meanwhile the office of Abdul Razak Ali Al Zarooni has blamed the agency for collecting utility bills from tenants and not paying it to Dewa. “They have collected the rent and it is their responsibility to make the payment,” an official said.

The owner, meanwhile, has also served notices to all ground floor tenants to vacate the premises. “We received the notice last October. We immediately approached the rental committee. They have urged the owner to extend our contract by another year.

The electricity problem started only after we won the case,” said Amit Joshi of Octavio.

“Otherwise how can you explain the fact that Dewa disconnected the supply only in December, although no bills were being paid seven to eight pior to that," asked Joshi.

Meanwhile, some traders who managed to operate with temporary electricity connection using generators had to disconnect following a warning issued by Dewa.

“Some residents complained and Dewa sent us a notice earlier this week to disconnect generator sets,” said Mohammed Ali Bashir of Superstar Garments Trading.

According to him business has dropped by almost 75 per cent. “The worst affected is the Karama branch of City Exchange. “We have been losing customers. I do not understand why we have to suffer despite having made payments on time. On an average we receive remittance amount of about Dh150,000 per day. The business has now terribly dropped. With no computers operational, we are sending way customers to other branches,” said Menon.

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