It is now nearly 14 month ago that residents of Tamweel Tower, once an occupied residential tower in Jumeirah Lakes Tower (JLT), were rudely awakened by a devastating fire.
The 34-floor building was gutted, damaged, paralised from within and abandoned as its occupants were no longer able to stay in their apartments. Owners and residents took comfort in alternative accommodation, some patiently waiting for the day to return.
But the comfort was hardly found for the owners of the tower. A monthly returning bill quoting capacity charges forms a stark reminder of the property they own, but do not utilise.
“We have been receiving bills from Palm Utilities up till now. Although the chiller charges have been scrapped, we are still paying capacity charges,” said an owner, who saw her one-bedroom apartment on the 6th covered in black smoke.
The latest bill dating January 7 refers to a “monthly capacity charge from 31-12-2013 to 30-01-2014: Dh26,875,” added to that chilled water residential metered consumption charge – service charge: Dh30, the monthly bill coming to a total of Dh29,875.
Because not all payments have been cleared, an added text reads: “Notice: please settle the current bill by due date, otherwise we will disconnect the services in which case normal services will resume when all amounts, including the reconnection fee are paid.”
Ahmed Hass, an Iraqi-Canadian who owns a 2-bedroom apartment on the 6th floor, speaks of a recurring Dh400 bill per month for capacity charges. “This is ridiculous. Our du connection has put on hold, why can’t this payment be put on hold? We have raised this issue earlier, but it seems that nobody is hearing us.”
The capacity charges are issued by Palm Utilities, which did not only provide the building with chilled water and air conditioning, but also laid the pipelines needed to support the building with these facilities.
A source within the Owners Association of Tamweel Tower explained: “We have discussed the issue with Palm Utilities and we have requested the payments to be paused, but they have not agreed to do so. Their argument is that the capacity charges are issued because they recover the cost of the work they have done.”
Palm Utilities does not want to comment on the issue, it said when questioned by Emirates 24l7.
Meanwhile, little is known about the date of completion of the damaged tower, with plans for restoration currently halted due to legal issues.
Tamweel Tower was gutted in the night of November 18, reportedly due to a cigarette butt thrown off a building and setting on fire the workers’ house at the foot of the building. The fire then rapidly climbed up, setting ablaze many apartments and leaving many other damaged by smoke and water.
Residents have been promised restoration ever since, but have had to relocate to alternative, or permanent accommodation without a clear prospective on when they could return.