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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Abu Dhabi residents leaving popular suburb over 'inconsiderate' roadworks

Residents are planning to leave a popular Abu Dhabi suburb over frustrations about a roadworks project which they claim is disruptive, slow, and at times dangerous.

Raha Gardens, an Aldar community managed by Khidmah, is in the midst of a major project to upgrade the drainage and repave roads across the sprawling development of more than 1,400 homes in Khalifa City A.

The work started last summer and has attracted a string of complaints from residents in recent weeks.

Many residents agree that the work needs to be done, but they allege it is often not being completed in a timely, or safe, manner.

One resident claimed a stone cutter with a sharp blade had been left in her street.

A photo provided by a Raha Gardens resident. Residents say ongoing works have disrupted their community.
A photo provided by a Raha Gardens resident. Residents say ongoing works have disrupted their community.

“I go on a daily walk with my son at around 5pm. We walk around the community. I am a cautious parent, but not every parent is like me. Their children might be roaming around in front of the villa or in the community,” said LH, a resident and member of an Emirati group of owners who have contacted Khidmah with their concerns about the community.

Another resident took video footage of a digger bucket filled with bricks sweeping over her garden. The woman, who has two young children, said she received no warning that the digger would pass above the property.

“My initial concern was that something would fall and break a window and hurt someone,” said Helen, the resident, who asked that The National only publish her first name.

Another resident posted a picture on the Raha Gardens Community Facebook page that appeared to show that the works were being powered using an electricity socket in her garage.

A photo provided by a Raha Gardens resident. Residents are unhappy with ongoing roadworks within the community.
A photo provided by a Raha Gardens resident. Residents are unhappy with ongoing roadworks within the community.

And many also claim that the work is slow.

One resident said it took one day to dig up the bricks on her street, and another day to re-lay them. The construction workers left the site after that, but the road remains littered with bricks and is still blocked by piles of sand at each side 12 days later.

Another resident said the repaving of a road near her home took more than a month.

“The road adjacent to our house took, and I know this because I was counting, 34 days to complete. For such a small road that was really slow and we had to endure a lot of dust and a lot of noise,” said LH.

She formed a voluntary owners' group with 13 fellow resident owners last year, months before the works started in her area, to in an effort to address concerns they had about the development. The group handed a petition, which listed the signatures of 130 owners, to Khidmah on October 30.

It said, among other concerns, that they are not receiving the service they would expect in return for the "high service charge," and claimed that maintenance was poor, with broken playground doors and fountains. In addition, they complained that communication is also often poor, or lacking altogether.

“The common stereotype out there is that the landlord is a millionaire with multiple properties and doesn’t care about the community they live in. It’s completely on the contrary,” she said.

“Most of us have put our life savings in the properties, and we really care about the community we live in. And most of us do live in the community that we have purchased in, so it is a priority for us that the quality of life community is up to standard.”

Al Raha Gardens in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National
Al Raha Gardens in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National

LH and her husband now plan to leave the community – something she would not have done had the management been better.

And she is not the only one planning to move.

“We just moved here from Dubai in August last year and love it here; however, we are going to move in August due to what we've seen will eventually hit us,” said Craig, another resident.

“Having seen the construction work there just seems to be no progress whatsoever or consideration for how this is actually impacting the residents. We are dreading this reaching us.”

Abdulla Al Qamzi, managing director of Khidmah, said Aldar had appointed qualified contractors and consultants to carry out the phased works, which began in July 2017 and are scheduled for completion in July 2019.

"Khidmah, which manages Al Raha Gardens Community, does not oversee the roadworks; however we have worked to facilitate the process and expedite the work by notifying tenants of the project’s progress as well as taking all possible measures to minimize disruption to the community," he said.

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"We regret any inconvenience caused during the current roadworks and repair phase. We urge residents and owners to rest assured that Aldar and Khidmah are doing their best to expedite the process and to minimize any inconvenience caused."

He encouraged residents to contact Khidmah's call centre at 800 5443624 or email customercare@khidmah.com with any comments or concerns.