Paying for another

I am writing to bring to Gulf News’ notice, an issue with a Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) utility bill.

Sewa provided me with a deposit receipt and no objection certificate on December 10, 2015.

Effectively after Sewa’s no objection letter, my landlord completed the initial maintenance and handed over the apartment’s key on December 14, 2015. My tenancy contract was for the period between December 17, 2015 to December 16, 2016. I moved into the new flat on December 24, 2015.

In the first week of February 2016, I was handed a shocking final notice. My January 2016 bill was for Dh3,492, and to my surprise, the consumption of water was 68,126 gallons and that too, with a previous reading date of October 13, 2015.

Immediately, I took the bill to Sewa authorities in order to complain. A Sewa officer said he was going to open an investigation with the water department, however there would be a service charge of Dh100, to which I agreed.

I took this up with my landlord, who replied that he had nothing to do with this, and it was between Sewa and me.

After five days, I visited Sewa’s branch, and an officer there said the water department had checked the meter and it was working well. I told him again that I took possession of this flat only in the middle of December 2015, and moreover, Sewa had given me a no objection letter on December 10, 2015. Additionally, I asked him why I was being charged from October 13, 2015, instead of December 10, 2015, and what about the reading Sewa took in November 15 and December 15? He replied that he would issue a letter that I could take to Sewa’s head office.

The head office looked into the letter and said they would investigate and get back to me in 30 days. Meanwhile, they advised me to make a payment only for electricity and gas, and I did pay accordingly.

Now, I have received Sewa’s final notice in February 2016 — a bill that includes the amount in question, as arrears for water usage.

I visited Sewa’s branch again, after this, but the representative said if there was no deduction in February’s bill, it meant I would have to pay the full amount.

I paid the full amount, fearing disconnection of utilities in my home.

I haven’t noticed any leakage since taking over the flat. Only three people live in my home - my wife, my five-year-old child and I. A Dh3,500 utility bill would amount to our annual consumption, not a month’s worth.

I would appreciate if Gulf News can take up this matter with Sewa and investigate the issue. Moreover, if they could reveal the water reading taken in November and December 2015, it would solve the issue or prove that the previous usage was not mine.

From Mr Murugesh Manickam


Editor’s note: The complaint was forwarded to Sewa for comments. However, despite repeated reminders, its management did not respond.

(Process initiation: March 28. Process completion: May 10.)

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