SHARJAH // Fuel shortages in the Northern Emirates may begin to affect power supplied by diesel generators as the summer heat boosts demand, residents fear.
No electricity means no air conditioning, lifts or hot water when temperatures can top 50C.
Until now the three-week petrol shortage that has closed Eppco and Enoc filling stations has affected only drivers, but there are concerns that the effects may now spread. Mohammed, who lives in the Mashaallah building in the Sawan area of Ajman, said his building relied on generators for all of its electricity and he had been forced to switch fuel suppliers from Eppco and Enoc to Emarat.
"Our diesel tanker supplier failed to bring diesel twice, because of shortages," he said. "We cannot keep our tenants in the dark because of these power cuts."
More than 400 buildings in Ajman are powered solely by generators, as the emirate has for years been dealing with a lack of electricity infrastructure and generation capacity.
Saifullah Mohammed, owner of the Alishba building in Rashidiya, Ajman, said he was closing the building because of an increase of more than 10 per cent in fuel prices in the past two weeks.
The building has been powered by a generator for two years, he said, and the price of fued had risen from Dh12 a litre to Dh13.30.
"Every month I have been spending Dh50,000 on diesel for the generators," he said. "Now it is summer. And the prices are increasing. How much am I going to spend? Besides, getting diesel has been very hard these days and I think prices will continue to go up."
Mr Mohammed has issued eviction notices to all his tenants, and about 10 families have left the building in the past two weeks. Only three families remain in the seven-floor building.
"We shall resume business once the Government supplies electricity," he said. "Authorities have told us by end of next year we shall all have electricity."
Sharjah has experienced blackouts for the past two summers, all related to diesel shortages at the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa), said Abdul Majid Ishaq, 40, an Egyptian resident of Sharjah University City.
The emirate relies on diesel fuel to power several of its generating stations, and shortages led to power cuts last year.
"Unlike previous years, when these diesel crises were limited to suppliers and power authorities, this year's diesel crisis started with petrol stations," he said. "There are no secrets - the emirate has a crisis affecting every business and service. Electricity is no exception."
Akram Jumah, 40, an Ethiopian resident of Rolla, said there had been several power-related problems lately with lifts and air conditioners, but that it was difficult to determine the cause.
"Last week a woman said she was stuck in a lift for 20 minutes without any help," he said. "The lift just stopped suddenly and remained closed."
He said the watchman said low voltage to the lift's motors was to blame.
A Sewa spokesman said there had been no power cuts in Sharjah city this summer so far and he hoped there would be none. Last year's problems had been fixed, he said.
But some Sharjah towns such as Khor Fakhan have already suffered power cuts, most recently on Sunday. That was a result of a technical fault that was fixed in less than an hour, said Eng Ahmed al Mulla, deputy director of Sewa Eastern Region.
"The authority is working hard not to have similar power disruptions this summer to its clients," he said.
Umm al Qawain suffered similar cuts last week, and the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa), responsible for supplies in the emirate, attributed them to the power plant expansion projects in the emirate.