Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 5 December 2019

'Our suffering must end': Ajman tenants left in dark after string of power cuts

Repeated faults with diesel-powered generators are making life a misery for residents

Tenants at Paradise Lake Towers have endured a series of power cuts this month, while many have had no internet connection for years. Antonie Robertson/The National
Tenants at Paradise Lake Towers have endured a series of power cuts this month, while many have had no internet connection for years. Antonie Robertson/The National

Beleaguered residents at a troubled Ajman apartment block are facing fresh woes - after being plunged into darkness by a string of power cuts.

Long-suffering tenants at Paradise Lake Towers, many of whom have already been left without internet access for years due to incorrectly installed cables, are now considering finding new homes after experiencing a staggering 18 power cuts since the start of Eid.

Extreme heat and noise pollution are piling on the misery for those living in B9 tower in the complex, which is powered by diesel generators.

Residents were left without electricity for 10 hours on the first day of the holiday period after the generators failed.

The complex, an eight-tower freehold project in Emirates City, was developed by Sweet Homes Group and is managed by Best Option Real Estate Agency.

It is the latest setback for tenants such as Ali Al Salmi, a 36-year-old father-of-two, who faced a ten-year wait after purchasing his three-bedroom property before it was finally ready to inhabit in 2016.

“It took ten years to finish the tower and despite that long period they did not finish it right. There is no internet connection and the electricity is still being provided through generators,'" said Mr Al Salmi.

“My son suffers from mild asthma and when the power went off at 10pm on the first day of Eid I had to take him to my parents house to operate the electrical nebulizer.”

Residents said that the power went off from 10pm until 3.30am and then came back for one hour, with a second power outage lasting until 11am.

“People were waiting by the streets with their children as there were no elevators working and no lights, even the exit lights at the staircase were not functioning, it was a real blackout,” said Mr Al Salmi.

“Diesel generators are very noisy and produce harmful fumes plus it is impossible for the current small generators to cover the tower resident usage in the heat.”

Another resident, who is considering moving out by the end of the month, said that the heat is unbearable during power cuts.

“We use wet towels at night when the power goes off to cool our bodies down,” said Umm Yousef, a 42-year-old Syrian mother of four.

“We live on the ninth floor and we were out of the house during the power cut but when we came back we couldn’t go up to the apartment as the elevators were not working.

Mohammed Mazin is losing hope that the issues faced by tenants can be fixed. Antonie Robertson/The National
Mohammed Mazin is losing hope that the issues faced by tenants can be fixed. Antonie Robertson/The National

"My husband is blind and it’s difficult to guide him and my two small daughters up on the stairs without light, not even the emergency ones so we stayed in the car until the power came back again.

“My seven-year-old daughter now refuses to use the elevator after she got trapped in it after arriving from school today.

“We haven't left the house since the power cuts started and many are not sending their kids to school. I wonder what would happen if an emergency occurred during the night with no electricity.

“I’m looking for another apartment now and will move by the end of the month. I have lived here for two years but I need to put an end to our suffering.”

Aside from the power cuts, noise and fumes emitted by the generators, residents said they also face electricity bills three times more than they would expect to pay to the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa).

“The developer asked us to pay connection fees to switch to Fewa, Dh35,000 or more depending on the size of the property," said Mohammed Mazin, 37, from Syria.

"Some have paid while others said that it is unclear why they should pay the amount.

“The situation is getting worse and we don’t know what to do, nothing is clear.

“It’s summer time and the temperature is above 40 degrees and the issue is not solved yet. It is not easy, especially on children and elderly who suffer most in the heat.”

Residents said they endured the same problems last summer - and are no closer to a solution.

“It seems that the generators fail to supply power during the hot weather, therefore, the developer should do their best to find a fast solution,” said Mr Mazin.

“The funny part is that the Fewa power station is only 100 meters away from the tower and yet we are not connected to it.”

Nael Al Amir, general manager for developers Sweet Homes Group, said efforts have been made to address the complaints of residents.

“We received calls from the residents about the power cut and immediately sent technicians to solve the problem,” said Mr Al Amir.

“Due to the overload of both 500 kilowatt generators, we replaced them with a 1,000 kilowatt single generator to solve the problem.”

“The new generator didn’t solve the problem so we replaced it again with another two generators and we installed a third one as a spare, if one of them suddenly stopped functioning.”

Mr Al Amir said that the group sent a notice to owners regarding Fewa connection fees at the start of the year.

“Fewa asked for between Dh7m and Dh11m, the amount depending on the tower size, in order to use their services and supply all three towers with power and water so it is an ongoing process.

“Many of the owners started paying and we expect to get the connection by the end of this year.”

Regarding the internet access issue, Mr Al Amir said that the connection will be ready by the end of June.

“We had an issue with the service providers due to the size of the telecommunications boxes installed in the towers and this month we came into an agreement with the providers to install the service using the current boxes without changing them.

“Therefore, we expect the connection to be ready by the end of the month.”

Updated: June 12, 2019 04:06 PM

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