x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Crowding problem persists in Sharjah

Despite an official purge, inspectors say they are finding as many as 15 or even 23 families squeezed into a single villa.

SHARJAH // Large-scale multiple sharing of villas is continuing despite an official purge and inspectors say they are finding as many as 15 or even 23 families squeezed into a single villa. Officials say such cases, in which more than 50 people live in villas divided into makeshift rooms or apartments by thin wooden partitions, indicate the crowding problem is showing no sign of diminishing and the operation to end it will continue.

Last month, Sharjah Municipality cut off electricity and water supplies to more than 300 villas housing single men. The municipality also issued warnings ordering owners and occupants of another 700 villas to conform with official regulations or face similar measures. Mohammed Salim al Kaabi, the head of the security section at the municipality, said that although bachelors were still a big problem, he feared violations by families were a growing concern.

"Most strange was 23 families sharing one villa house and each family had two to four members," said Mr Kaabi. Inspectors had found another house that was home to 15 families, he said. "We understand the rent is high for some families but still we cannot allow such violations as they come with serious social repercussions." The municipality had received several complaints about problems between families sharing houses that arose from cheating or fighting or were the result of suspicions of relationships between members of different families.

Mr Kaabi said allegations that one man's wife was getting too close to another woman's husband, or that a man was looking at another man's wife, had sparked fights in shared apartments. "The families are using wood dividers to make apartments but this is also not enough for privacy. In one room you can hear all that is going on in another room." This month, however, the municipality was focusing on the problem of single men sharing houses in residential areas and had been handing out fines for overcrowding.

"We also want to inculcate discipline among bachelors especially since many are sharing rooms with other people of different cultures or backgrounds," said Mr Kaabi. "Some bachelors in their rooms are dirty, don't want to shower and smell. "There are also those that strip naked in sight of their roommates without any regard." Another major problem was groups of single men standing around in the streets and causing a nuisance to passers-by.

"If a woman passes they all look at her until she disappears, which is an embarrassment to some women, especially those from the Muslim culture," he said. The municipality has set up a toll-free number (993) for residents to call when they see single men causing a nuisance. @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae