ABU DHABI // The first of almost 200 teachers have started moving into new homes after the collapse of a courtyard at the their previous apartment block forced them to live in a hotel for three weeks.
The teachers have been staying in the Yas Viceroy hotel without many of their belongings while the Abu Dhabi Educational Council (Adec) and the developer of the flawed residential block, Sorouh, found 200 new apartments.
"I am relieved to be going," said one teacher who did not want to be named.
She, her son and her daughter were moving to the Sun Tower on Al Reem Island - which was also built by Sorouh - after their spell in the five-star hotel. In addition to Sorouh developments, some teachers will be moved to developments built by others.
The 1,400 square-metre courtyard collapsed on September 30 at Al Rayyana, a Sorouh development in Khalifa City A. Eight cars were damaged but no one was injured. An investigation into the accident is still being carried out.
"At least this development [Sun Tower] is finished," she said. "It's smaller but it's definitely nicer and it will be really nice when we all get settled in," she said.
Adec and Sorouh said the teachers would be moving in groups of 15 every day and the whole process will take two weeks. The first of the teachers moved out of the hotel on Thursday, according to Adec.
"Yes I am one of the first 15 blazing a trail," the unnamed teacher added yesterday as hotel staff loaded her car with suitcases. "I've checked out. We're done, that's it. Bye bye Viceroy. I've lived in more five-star resorts here than I have lived in apartments in the US," she said.
Other teachers who were still waiting to be told when they could move were still enjoying the hotel's facilities. "I think some people really like the Viceroy and want to stay permanently but, for the three of us, it's better to have our own place," she added.
Three other teachers said they wanted to stay and really liked living at Yas. "Adec have been really good with everything. We didn't have much time to get everything but they looked after us. I'm smiling," one of them said. "It is hard to please everyone but this has been a great response."
The relocation process consists of three stages for Adec staff. They are informed by phone when they are moving and then go to the Al Rayyana development to pack up all their belongings into boxes.
The following day, furniture is dismantled, packed and moved to the new apartment, where everything is reassembled. On the third day, the teachers are handed the keys to their new home.
The 194 Adec staff and their families have been staying at the hotel, with all costs covered. Adec said it had been "working around the clock" to rehouse its staff.
Salem Al Sayari, the executive director of support services sector at Adec, said its priority was to find new homes for its staff within a respectable amount of time. "That is why we divided teachers into a group of 15, so that the move can be smooth and organised. We realise that the incident was inconvenient and sudden - that's why we took instant action to help our teachers feel comfortable and at ease," Mr Al Sayari said.