x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai's Tamweel Tower fire compensation falls short of victims’ costs

Residents who were made homeless after last year's Tamweel Tower fire have received payments from the building's owner towards the cost of living in rented accommodation.

Fire destroyed a third of the 34-storey building in Jumeriah Lakes Towers on November 18. Pawan Singh / The National
Fire destroyed a third of the 34-storey building in Jumeriah Lakes Towers on November 18. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Residents who were made homeless after last year’s Tamweel Tower fire have received payments towards their costs for a month’s stay in hotel apartments.

Fire destroyed a third of the 34-storey building in Jumeirah Lakes Towers on November 18 leaving many residents to pay for rooms in nearby hotels.

“I received about Dh9,075,” said Pallav Pancholi, a homeowner who moved his family into a hotel after the fire. “Of course nobody is satisfied. I paid Dh16,000 for our stay. Everybody incurred a lot of expenses.

“But, something is better than nothing. Whatever they have given is enough.”

The payments from the building’s insurer, Arab Orient, cover one month’s stay in a hotel. The amounts issued, which range from Dh7,500 to Dh12,000 say residents, depending on the size of the apartment that was damaged, in some cases do not come close to covering costs.

“My actual cost was Dh13,000 but I received Dh7,500,” said John Cox, a homeowner who is renting an apartment on Sheikh Zayed Road.

“If I spent Dh13,000, they should pay exactly that. We had to also spend to take whatever furniture we had to the new place.”

A police report suggested the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette that landed on rubbish at the base of the tower. The blaze moved up the length of the building, burning the exterior cladding.

As with an estimated 70 per cent of buildings in Dubai, the tower did not have fire-retardant cladding.

Arab Orient agreed to pay to return the building to its former condition. This does not include replacing items in any of the flats damaged by the blaze.

Mr Cox said he did not know when the tower would be fully repaired and when he could move back in.

“We had to give over a key to our apartment so engineers can access them,’’ he said. “It would take four to five weeks to assess the damage and then they would have to submit a report. The longer it takes to restore, the more expensive for me. In a nutshell, it is still a mess.”

Mr Pancholi was also hopeful that he would soon receive a moving-in date. “Everyone is trying to expedite the restoration process but there is no clarity on how long it will take. I have my own apartment but I have to rent out now.

“Everybody is losing out on a year’s rent.”

A spokesman for the Tamweel Towers Interim Owners Association (IOA) said: “The IOA has continued to pursue the best interests of the building’s owners and residents. In this regard, IOA assisted by Tamweel have been successful in negotiating payment by the insurer of alternative accommodation relief claims for residents, within policy limits.”

pkannan@thenational.ae