Sharjah: Sharjah Electricity, Water and Gas Authority (Sewa) has announced a breather for consumers who are unable to pay their bills on time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sewa recently announced an extension to the deadline for utility bill payment without penalties for one month, for bills not exceeding Dh1,000; and 15 days for bills above Dh1,000. Earlier, there was only a seven-day grace period for making payments without incurring penalties.
However, Hamed Taher Al Hajj, director of the Subscriber Services Department at Sewa, clarified to Gulf News how the department has decided to implement the decision, following several complaints from Gulf News readers that they could not avail the offer.
Al Hajj said the decision was implemented after its issuance, specifically for the cycle from April 28, 2021 onwards. He said that bills are generated through four reading cycles and each cycle covers a group of areas in the emirate of Sharjah to ensure accuracy in the readings. Al Hajj advised consumers facing difficulty in paying the bill to approach the Halwan branch of Sewa.
One Gulf News reader said: “I got to know that I got a relief for 15 days ... This gesture is very big for me as I always pay my bill through credit card and my credit card billing cycle does not match the Sewa billing cycle. When I saw this news about extension of the grace period in Gulf News I was happy. I immediately contacted the Sewa call centre and I was allowed a grace period of 15 days, since my bill was more than Dh1,000. However, today, suddenly, Sewa disconnected my electricity and water supply. Just imagine, in this summer, we don’t have water and electricity.”
The reader further said: “When I contacted the call centre agin, I was advised to go to the Happiness Centre. When I went to the Happiness Centre, I was told to contact the call centre! I have cleared my bill with a Dh100 fine for late payment, but not before having to spend a whole day without electricity and water.”
Another reader said he too had incurred a fine on his Sewa bill. He said that when he approached Sewa, he was told they were not aware of this announcement. A number of other consumers also had similar issues.
The bills for the first cycle are issued on the seventh of each month, and payment can be made without a penalty until the 21st of the same month. The second cycle of bills is issued on the 14th of each month and payment can be made up to the first of the following month, while the third cycle is issued on the 21st of each month and payment can be made up to the seventh of next month. Bills for the fourth cycle are issued on the 28th of each month and payment can be made without any penalty until the 14th of the following month.