DUBAI: Residents of a 34-storey building which was gutted by a fire about five years ago are still awaiting word about when they can return home.
Flames broke out in Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) on November 18, 2012 and quickly spread through the entire building, displacing hundreds.
For years, affected homeowners lived in rented accommodations as the building reconstruction was shelved for one reason or another.
After a seemingly endless delay, Tamweel Tower finally got ready in June 2016. But hopes of moving into the building were dashed as the building consultant and insurance provider couldn’t get an approval from Dubai Civil Defence to hand over the possession of the apartments.
“It’s very frustrating. “The building is ready to move in, but all we can do is stare at it from far,” said Jordanian Murad Najjar who owns a two-bedroom apartment on the 26th floor.
“First, it was delayed because the external cladding used during reconstruction did not adhere to Civil Defence requirements. The contractor used type B1 cladding while Civil Defence regulations stated it should be A2. Both meet safety standards. However, it took the contractor six months to get the B1 cladding approved from Civil Defence,” said Najjar.
“If this was not bad enough, the building insurer and consultant took months to get the go-ahead from Civil Defence to start the reconstruction work,” he added.
Residents said the delay has caused them huge financial setbacks.
Indian expat Hanzala Rangwala, who has been forced to live in a rented apartment, said he has to fork out thousands of dirhams in rent despite owning a two-bedroom apartment in the building.
“The saddest part is that we have to still pay anything between Dh15,000 and Dh35,000 annually towards maintenance fees. We are also billed every month for cooling. In fact, owners have been served legal notice by the cooling provider for not settling dues,” said Rangwala who is still paying Dh9,000 per month towards his building mortgage.
Another homeowner Harish Bambani said they are at their wits end. “Residents of buildings which caught fire after Tamweel Tower have all moved back into their apartments. In some instances, owners were even paid hefty compensation. However in our case, neither have we got compensation nor our houses.”