x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Residents cool on fees and lakes

Residents living in three of Dubai's most exclusive gated communities face problems ranging from excessive cooling charges to stagnant lakes.

DUBAI // Poorly kept lakes and rising district-cooling charges continue to be a problem for residents of upmarket gated communities.

In the Jumeirah Islands development, about 400 residents have signed a petition against a 150 per cent rise in district-cooling charges.

Contracts outlining the increase were sent to residents this month, but they say they will refuse to sign.

"We wanted to voice our disgust and concern," a British owner said. "The petition has been handed in to both Rera and Nakheel. At the next step, we will discuss legal action."

Al Shirawi US Chillers, the company taking over district-cooling services from Palm Utilities, will charge Dh1.40 a tonne of refrigeration an hour, instead of Dh0.563.

Under the old arrangement, villa owners would commonly be charged about Dh1,300 a month for consumption charges alone. Extra capacity fees and a fuel surcharge would push the bill up to about Dh2,850.

Under the new tariff, consumption charges would be about Dh3,200 a month.

This is not the first time residents have hit out at cooling charges. In August 2010, Nakheel tried to bill residents Dh1,280 a month as an "additional capacity charge".

Many refused to pay and, in November, residents received letters from Nakheel saying the capacity charge had been waived.

Residents claim the consumption charges have been raised to accommodate the lost capacity charges.

But a spokesman for the developer said cooling charges had been revised to match market rates.

"The scheme is better than that in other communities in Dubai as it is a function of consumption only with no fixed monthly payments," he said.

Nearby in The Springs and The Lakes, the big issue facing residents is environmental with, they say, some of the lakes virtually stagnant and a breeding ground for insects.

They have called on the developer, Emaar, to act before rising temperatures worsen the problem.

"It's not a problem with all the lakes, just a couple," said one villa owner in The Lakes.

"We see people carrying out work but during summer it can get pretty bad."

Emaar said: "The roadworks are largely complete and the few that are nearing completion would significantly add to the convenience …

"All the lakes and other landscaping features are maintained to the highest industry standards. We have an international qualified team of engineers under the guidance of a limnologist who ensures the water quality adheres to the required standards."