Dubai: Four years after a major fire ravaged the Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), the building has been finally restored, but still has a few issues.
On November 18, 2012, the 34-storey tower was engulfed in flames and declared ‘uninhabitable’. However, following comprehensive rehabilitation, the tower was finally restored in June 2016.
The apartment owners, 160 in total, have not been authorised to move in so far.
Amit Suri, acting chairman of the Tamweel Tower Owner’s Association, told Gulf News: “The building is ready to be occupied, but some procedures have not been followed-up, leaving the Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) approval pending.”
He elaborated on the delays: “For instance, the permission and installation procedure for the cladding material is yet to be submitted by the contractor to the DCD for approval. We expect these requirements to be submitted within the week.”
It may be recalled that authorities had traced the cause of the 2012 fire to a discarded cigarette butt that fell on a pile of waste. The fire spread due to the flammable plastic core in the cladding.
This, and more tower fires that followed, prompted authorities to ban non fire-rated aluminium cladding.
An updated UAE Fire and Life Safety Code 2016 is expected to be released by year-end.
Speaking on behalf of the tower’s insurer Orient Insurance, Graham Whitelaw, the loss adjuster for Tamweel Tower, told Gulf News: “All materials used in the repair of this tower are in compliance with the current fire and life safety codes. The cladding panels used in the repairs are in excess of the standard required by the current code and, it is believed, will comply with the new code when it is published.”
A DCD spokesperson assured that it would issue a completion certificate once all compliance issues were resolved. “All towers in Dubai have to comply with the new code,” he said.
Suri said that DCD has also recommended the replacement of some sprinkler valves, installation of smoke detectors in the maid and store rooms, and for the balconies to be raised to 1.2 metres.
The association has contacted the insurance to take charge of fire safety installations and other repair work necessary.
“These requirements by the DCD are in the favour of the people,” Mazen Iskandarani, an apartment owner said.
“But the people want to move back so let the insurance pay for the additional smoke detector and sprinkler [valves]," he added.
Iskandarani explained why there was a sense of urgency among tenants to move in.
“Our current rent contracts will end this December. We can have an extension of three months as per the law. However, if we can move into Tamweel before the end of March as we expect, it will save us rent extension in our current residence.”
Another owner, requesting anonymity, elaborated on the financial loss he faced: “Despite the fire, I had to continue to pay my mortgage to the bank on the flat I owned even as I had to rent another place to stay. So financially, it was a huge impact for the last four years. I’ve lost close to Dh500,000 on rental income and on personal rent,” the owner said.
Suri said the Owners’ Association is grateful for the help extended by DCD and Dubai Municipality. He remains optimistic that “authorities and the relevant concerned parties will join hands together and work as a team to ensure that the tower is occupied and handed over back to the owners very soon.”
— With inputs by Noorhan Barakat, Staff Reporter
Apartment owners welcome Empower offer
Owners welcomed the move of Empower to waive off 50 per cent part of the accumulated fees for their district cooling services, but some said the charges should be scrapped totally.
In a letter sent to the Owner’s Association, Empower said it fee waiver for the demand charge and full service charges of the district cooling will apply November 2012 to June 2016.
One owner said: “It’s not a full waiver but 50 per cent is better than nothing. We thank them for it. The bill is between Dh15,000 to Dh18,000, without the discount.”
Other owners, however, said that Empower should consider their building as a special case since it was unused not by their choice.
Gulf News repeatedly contacted Empower but no comment was available at the time of going to press.