Former tenants of Al Baker Tower wait to receive cheques from officials at the Sharjah Housing Department on Tuesday. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Sharjah Former tenants of the gutted Al Baker Tower heaved a sigh of relief Tuesday after they collected compensation to the tune of Dh50,000 each as government aid.

Some 51 families out of the total 125 affected in the massive fire were entitled to compensation as a result of having lost all their personal belongings and life savings in the blaze that erupted at the residential tower in Sharjah last month.

"I've already moved into a new flat on Al Wahda Street but with the assistance, I will be able to buy a television and other electric appliances for the kitchen as well as curtains and new furniture," Kahtana Ebrahim from flat 101 said. "When I was looking for a new place to stay, the first thing I asked the management was if there was a fire alarm, a sprinkler system, and that the facade was not made out of aluminium," the father of four pointed out.

The Sharjah Housing Department was responsible for distributing Dh2.5 million relief funds to the affected families, based on directives from His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

A large crowd had gathered in the corridors of the department as they waited anxiously for employees from the financial and legal departments to call out their flat numbers. Upon collecting their cheques, tenants were required to provide a copy of their national identity card and passport in addition to an agreement signed between the tenant and the government department.

Although many tenants received compensation, as many as 74 families were not eligible to receive the relief funds since they had not lost a substantial amount in the fire, even though their furniture and belongings may have been damaged as the Sharjah Civil Defence personnel extinguished the blaze. Most of the former tenants interviewed by Gulf News said they had learnt a lesson after the incident and now specifically look for buildings with proper fire safety measures.

"This is a gift from God and we learnt our lesson. We never used to think about having content insurance but now we've been given another chance, and this time I am definitely looking at having insurance," Mohammad Ebrahim from flat 2004 said.

"I wanted to express my gratitude to Shaikh Sultan in giving us another chance. I moved into a new flat with my mother, wife and one-year-old child and so far, all we were able to buy were basic utensils and a stove. We were only able to buy a mattress, but now with this extra help, we can start getting our lives back on track," Mustafa Jawad, a school teacher, said.

Accident: fire in apartment

A fire broke out on the 14th floor in Crystal Plaza at about 2pm yesterday, disrupting traffic along the Buheira Corniche.

An official from the Sharjah Civil Defence confirmed that the fire was contained in one flat and did not spread to the neighbouring apartments.

There were no reports of injuries in the fire. A team from the Civil Defence cordoned off the area.

— M.A.S.