The palatial SEWA head office in Al Khan Image Credit: Xpress/Karen Dias

Sharjah: Expatriate residents in Sharjah will have to pay water and electricity deposits from between Dh3,000 to Dh4,500 depending on the size of the flat and consumption.

Many have complained to Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) about the increase and the fact that they were not informed of the changes.

Shocked residents said they found notices on their doorsteps asking them to pay an additional water and electricity deposit within seven days otherwise Sewa said they would be disconnected.

According to Sewa, residents who are living in one or two bedroom apartments or houses must pay an additional Dh3,000 and those in three-bedroom homes must pay an additional Dh4,500.

Spiralling costs

"When I reached home from work on Wednesday afternoon I found the shocking notice left by Sewa on my door," said a resident in the Al Majaz area.

"On top of everything and the spiralling costs that we have to endure without an upsurge in salaries, I was appalled at the tone and the timing of the letter (at the onset of summer) and giving a time-frame of only seven days in which to pay this hefty sum of Dh3,000 and threatened with disconnection of my utilities," Nina, from India, said.

"I have already paid an electricity deposit of Dh1,000 for the last 30 years or so that is already accruing interest," she said.

She said she has been paying her bills regularly without any default for the past 32 years.

"I just need to know why this hefty amount is to be paid by me and other tenants and on what grounds is this applicable," she said.

"We tried to contact Sewa to inquire through their phone number attached with the notice but in vain as no one ever responds," she said.

"I stay by myself in the same one-bedroom apartment I have occupied for the last 19 years and my monthly bill with meter charges does not exceed Dh600 at the height of summer, and half that amount during the rest of the year," she said.

"After I checked with the watchman, I was told that this notice was given to another 12 tenants of the building who like myself are older tenants."

She called it was an injustice being unleashed on residents without any prior notice.

"I believe this is actually against all human values and decency, to suddenly surprise us with a notice to pay up this huge amount within the short specified seven days."

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Another Indian tenant who lives in the same area said he received a notice which stated he should pay an additional deposit of Dh4,500 for his three-bedroom apartment.

"If we do not pay they will disconnect electricity and water within seven days," he said.

He said he does not mind paying but he doesn't have enough money with him as it is the middle of the month.

"We should have been told in advance or informed when we renew our tenancy contract," he said.

Another Pakistani tenant in the same building said she received a threatening notice from Sewa demanding she pay an additional Dh3,000 electricity and water deposit within seven days which ends on Thursday.

Have to suffer

"I have no money at all to pay at the moment as I just paid the school fees for my children," she said.

"I guess my family and I have to suffer in this summer heat without utilities until we arrange for the required money for the Sewa deposit," she said.

Gulf News was unable to get a response from Sewa.