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Burnt cars and debris outside the Abbco Tower in Al Nahda, Sharjah, a day after the fire broke out in May. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Sharjah: Four months after a fire at the Abbco Tower in Sharjah, tenants of the building say they are yet to receive any news on rent compensation.

According to Nedal Mohammed, building manager of Tidewater Properties, the company managing the tower, currently they are waiting for the building insurance company to revert on the compensation package that will take care of the reconstruction of the tower and likely rental refunds to tenants whose apartments were damaged.

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The massive fire which broke out in the multistorey residential tower in Al Nahda, on May 5 left 100 apartments badly damaged of the total 330. “The building is currently sealed off and no one has been allowed near the site,” said Mohammed. While that is yet to happen, tenants on the other hand said they have had to put up with a number of inconveniences despite initial help coming from the building management and the Sharjah foundation.

Mohammed, who is a tenant of the building and a victim of the fire, said he too has been forced to find a two-bedroom apartment in Sharjah as he awaits news on the compensation.

At first, when the fire happened, Sharjah Charity International (SCI) housed residents of the Tower in alternative accommodation. Now the tenants are on their own. Take the case of another tenant in the building, Jayin Jose, hailing from the South Indian state of Kerala. He paid a year’s rent in full for a studio apartment in the tower in February. “I paid Dh22,000 and this is a massive amount for me already,” said Jose who works as a sales executive earning Dh2,500 a month. His wife who works as a receptionist earns Dh3,000 a month. “We took a loan in order to pay the rent. In fact, the lease is in my wife’s name. Am waiting to hear any news of rent compensation.”

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The massive fire that broke out in the multistorey Abbco Tower on May 5, left 100 apartments badly damaged, out of a total of 330. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News Archives

Jose said he would like a conclusion on the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority bills (SEWA) bills for his flat in the tower. “Every month we are getting calls to pay pending bills. Hope that authorities will make due consideration owing to the situation and our charges will be waived off.”

Jayin Jose

Another Indian tenant of the ravaged tower Rithesh Shetty, an IT Engineer working for a private hospital in Sharjah said he is waiting for two months’ compensation. Shetty, who lived in a two-bedroom apartment paying a rent of Dh31,000 a year, lost everything in the fire. “My hall was completely burnt out. My TV, sofa set is all gone. I had an aquarium with hundreds of fish and they all died. I am distraught. I don’t know what to say.”

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He said life changed upside down since the fire. “It has been rough for me. My family is stuck in India and they are not shifting back to UAE for some time. So I have been forced to share accommodation with two other bachelors just so we can share the burden of rent. We have paid rent, Sewa, security deposit. We need to get it all back. Not just that now that we have had to move to a new place, we have had to pay everything all over again. It will be a big respite if we get some help with our pending rent, Sewa and security deposit,” said Shetty.

He said the burden has been accentuated owing to the pandemic situation. “We have faced salary cuts. On top of this I have shelled out two rent cheques and deposit money. We hope authorities look into this and do the needful.”