Sharjah fire: 12 days on, residents still homeless

Sharjah fire: 12 days on, residents still homeless
A view of Al Naseer tower which is gutted in fire last week in Sharjarh

Sharjah - Residents of gutted Al Nasser Tower in Sharjah seek speedy action


Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Tue 13 Oct 2015, 7:30 PM

Tenants of Al Nasser Tower which was gutted by a fire 12 days ago have demanded authorities to end their suffering, either by extending their stay in hotels or by restoring utilities to their homes.
Following the accident, the tenants were provided accommodation in hotels by Red Crescent, which has now stopped its support.
Some of them can afford to pay for the hotels but some can't pay and will remain homeless from today. And they do not know where they will spend the night.
They cannot go back to the building because there is no power and water. Also, the lifts are not working and it's impossible to climb 26 floors every day.
Some of the residents have decided to move to other buildings and demanded the owner to return the rest of the cheques.
According to the management of the tower, power has not been restored and tenants have been allowed into the building only to take their belongings. 
Officials speak
Khamees Al Suwaidi, director-general of Red Crescent said they sent notices to all tenants two days ago requesting them to look for alternative accommodations or push the owner to provide accommodations, because Red Crescent provided them shelter for 12 days with meals. It costs too much and something has to be done to solve the problem. "Some of the tenants are capable of paying for their accommodation and still depend on us, while some of them can't pay hotel bills but they need to make efforts to help themselves. We can't do more than this."
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Ayman Saeed, Representative of Mohammed bin Nasser that manages the tower, said they are in constant touch with the authorities concerned since the accident happened. "There is no power and water connection in the building and we can't allow tenants to return to their apartments before the comprehensive report from authorities concerned is issued. And this includes civil defence, forensic laboratory, and municipality.
He explained that the management of the building will ensure that as soon as they receive the report the insurance company will start maintenance. Power will also be restored and tenants of unaffected apartments can returned to their homes.
He added that the percentage of damage in the building does not exceed 20 per cent.
With regard to tenants who want to shift out of the building, the management has promised to return the balance cheques. No cheques will be processed in the bank effective, October, 1. Those whose cheques have been processed for the month of October will be paid back. The owner of the building has instructed banks to hold on to the cheques until tenants return. "We are only waiting for the report to solve the whole issue for the tenants," he said
Brig. Abdullah Al Suwaidi, director-general of Sharjah civil defence said they are waiting for the forensic report and investigation to levy a fine on the owner and the maintenance company which is obliged to provide periodic maintenance. The fine will be between Dh500 and Dh50,000 based on the violations that will be revealed in the report. Following the report, the civil defence will also instruct Sharjah Electricity and Water Authorities (Sewa) to restore power for the building to allow tenants return to their apartments.
A top official, at the Sharjah Municipality, assured that the report will be ready today to reveal the validity of the building and its violation.
Officials from Sewa said they are concerned about the safety of tenants and will restore power only after instructions from the authorities concerned that the building is safe for living.
What tenants say
Mohammed Mirza, tenant of 2201 said his apartment was not affected by the fire but he cannot live there as there is no power and water. "How can I climb to the 22nd floor every day? My apartment is locked and I was provided accommodation by Red Crescent. But today I was told to pay for the hotel or find some other accommodation. I don't have enough money and don't know where to go with my family"
Bassam Al Haj, tenant of 1709 said his apartment was completely gutted in the fire and he lost all his belongings. He too is in a dilemma as to what to do about accommodation. We need an immediate solution either to restore power or extend saying in the accommodations," he said Marwan Abu Hattab, tenant of 2301 said that he booked a hotel room on his own and pays Dh500 every day. He said the shelter provided by Red Crescent is not good enough for his family. "Our problem will be solved when power and water are restored to the building."

Ill-fated residents share some lighter moments on Monday, as they discuss about future.– Photo by M.Sajjad
Ill-fated residents share some lighter moments on Monday, as they discuss about future.– Photo by M.Sajjad

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