x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Silicon Oasis runs out of water

Hundreds of Emirates airline employees in staff accommodation at Dubai Silicon Oasis have been without water for more than 24 hours.

A private tanker delivers water to a villa at Dubai Silicon Oasis. Pawan Singh / The National
A private tanker delivers water to a villa at Dubai Silicon Oasis. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Hundreds of Emirates airline employees in staff accommodation at Dubai Silicon Oasis have been without water for more than 24 hours. Residents of Semmer Villas - used by Emirates to house employees including pilots and engineers - said they have been unable to shower, wash clothes or flush toilets since their water tanks ran dry.

Some said they lost their supply on Sunday while others discovered yesterday that their taps were not working. Some took the matter into their own hands and ordered their own water from private suppliers. A senior representative from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) said yesterday that the shortage was due to maintenance being carried out on one of two pipes that serve the development. He could not explain why residents were not receiving water through the second pipe.

"There was maintenance work on one of the pipes supply the area with water. But there is another pipe supplying the area so it should not have been a problem. Especially [as the maintenance] didn't take a long time. It was less than 48 hours and it was supposed to be for the amount of tank water reserved for the houses," said Abdullah al Hajri, the authority's executive vice president for customer service.

It is unclear whether every house in the development was affected. Yesterday evening, lorries carrying water rolled into the Semmer Villas, ordered by desperate residents to provide some temporary relief. Many residents were seen using the trucks to pump water into their tanks. "We just called the truck because we had no water even to use in the bathroom," said a British resident who did not wish to be named. His neighbours wasted no time in approaching him and asking him if they could fill their tanks from the truck.

Some said they had been without water for more than 30 hours. "We need water. We have just been left in the middle of nowhere. Despite being a glamorous city, we do not even have basic water," said Rakhi Moore, also from Britain. Mrs Moore has a two-year-old daughter and said it was very difficult to manage without water. "I spoke to Dewa twice but they didn't have any answers," she said. Residents said it was the second time in 12 months that they have found themselves without water.

"Last year, we had no water for four days. The worst part is that they never inform us about it. If they tell us, we could at least save up some water for the next few days," said one resident. "I look at it as a form of disrespect," said a resident from Italy, who did not wish to be named. "It's normal to have issues but if no one informs us, then it just shows that they don't care about us," he said.

He has a newborn child and was struggling to cope without water. "They tell us water should be back today but I find it difficult to believe them," he added. Paul Jones, 40, a charted chemical engineer, said the water ran out yesterday morning in his four-bedroom villa. "Straight after my water went, a neighbour came across and said they had no water either," Mr Jones said. "There are all four-bedroom villas occupied by small families. We have a large tank outside that holds several hundreds of litres, which is now finished and will go down to Jumeirah to some friends and wash there."

Mr Jones also said it was the second time this has happened. Last year, he said, there was no water for four days. "After that, they brought water tankers in to fill up everybody's tanks. They've known this for 24 hours, they have done nothing to notify the residents that there would be a water shortage," he said. @Email:eharnan@thenational.ae pmenon@thenational.ae