x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Cash dismay for 74 families

Only the worst affected families left homeless after a fire gutted a Sharjah tower are to receive Dh50,000 compensation.

Apart from the property, many cars parked in the vicinity of Al Baker Tower in Sharjah were also destroyed in the fire.
Apart from the property, many cars parked in the vicinity of Al Baker Tower in Sharjah were also destroyed in the fire.

SHARJAH // Fewer than half of the 125 families left homeless after fire gutted Al Baker Tower will benefit from an offer of Dh50,000 compensation from the Ruler of Sharjah, authorities have said.

The worst affected families - 51 in total - will receive the cash aid on orders from Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, said Abdullah bin Khadim, the director of Sharjah Charity International, which is handling the payments together with the Sharjah Department of Housing.

The charity's board has divided the families into two groups - those whose apartments were at the rear of the tower and were completely gutted, and those who lived in the front blocks and whose properties were not destroyed.

"The back block has 51 families with gutted homes, most of them are Arabs," he said.

A list containing the names and details of the 51 families has been forwarded to the Department of Housing. The Dh50,000 compensation payments are expected to be distributed in less than a week.

However, most of the families who lived in the front blocks of the tower have also been left homeless as the entire building has been closed off. They say they are struggling to come to terms with being told they have missed out on the cash.

Tariq Al Ghazi, one of the tenants of the front block, said he was disturbed by the decision. "We all lost everything and we are all homeless," he said. "But we went to the Department of Housing and they told us compensation is only for those in the backside block, we have not a single dirham to claim."

Mr Al Ghazi has moved his family out of the hotel they was staying in and moved into a rented house. He said he will have to save for a year to replace all the furniture destroyed.

Muhanand Taraz, another tenant, said he was still staying in a hotel at his expense and had not able to find another apartment.

"When I heard the news of His Highness giving us help I was excited and thought I would use the money to find a new apartment," he said.

"After reaching the Department of Housing, I learned that I was not included among the people to be compensated. The building owner is also telling us that only the building is insured and nothing inside can be compensated - I don't know who to turn to now," he said.

He said that only a few items could be repaired and reused from his apartment, but now companies are charging Dh3,000 to remove furniture from the building.

"They told me they will have to use the staircase to go up to the 17th floor and that all the furniture was exceptionally wet," he said.

Those tenants who are eligible for compensation said they were eager to receive it. "Whenever my phone rings, I first think the Ruler's men are calling to give me the cheque," said Ifeanyi Dove.

ykakande@thenational.ae