x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Power cuts blamed for fines and prison

Thousands of people have faced imprisonment or lawsuits because their businesses ground to a halt due to power outages in Fujairah, according to documents released at the FNC.

ABU DHABI // Thousands of people have faced imprisonment or lawsuits because their businesses ground to a halt due to power outages in Fujairah, according to documents released yesterday at the FNC.

Dozens of buildings and businesses have lacked electricity for up to two years, said Sultan al Muazzin, a Federal National Council member from Fujairah and the chairman of the health, labour and social affairs committee. Dr al Muazzin presented his findings in a written report to the FNC.

The report accompanied a question directed to Mohammed al Hamili, the Minister of Energy, that asked why many buildings in Fujairah still lacked utilities.

The emirate falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa), which provides services to the Northern Emirates. Abu Dhabi has also set up power plants to cater to the region.

"There is another dangerous problem, which is court verdicts that threaten the life and future of a lot of building owners who borrowed from banks to set up these buildings which have not been operational for two years," he said.

The "massive losses" endured by the owners, of which 98 per cent were UAE nationals, "points to a sad end inside prisons", he said.

Dr al Muazzin estimated the number of individuals facing prison or court decisions related to these loans at 10,000.

The lack of electricity in buildings had contributed to a housing shortage and a rise in rents in the emirate, he added.

In an interview before the session, Dr al Muazzin also said he wanted to find out why there was seemingly "favouritism" that allowed more influential businesses to be connected to the electrical grid before regular citizens.

Fewa attracted criticism earlier for running an Dh800 million surplus in 2009 despite the electricity shortages. In a written response, Mr al Hamili, who is also Fewa's chairman, said the agency was following a timetable to supply electricity to its customers, and had connected about 950 customers to the grid in 2010.

 

kshaheen@thenational.ae

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