Tamweel Tower repair work starts three years after a fire partially gutted the building, displacing around 160 families. A major fire damaged one side of the 34-storey tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) on November 18, 2012. The building has been closed since then and declared ‘uninhabitable’. Masoud, head of the Tamweel Tower Owners’ Association (TTOA), said the repair work started only recently, although the insurance company had taken over the building last year.
“They [insurance company] put out the tender last year but the whole process took time. Actual physical work only started a month ago,” Masoud told Gulf News. Masoud said the contractor in June said it would take nine months to repair the building, meaning residents should be able to move back to the mixed-use tower by March 2016. But not everyone is optimistic about the March target since construction work was set back by another three months.
The tower was ready for restoration in April last year. But the association lacked a bank account under its name to be able to legally award contracts, and for the insurance company to release needed funds for the work. Gulf News repeatedly contacted Tamweel, the building developer and co-owner, and Arab Orient Insurance, for comments but did not receive a statement at the time of going to press.
Masoud said all the aluminium cladding panels that surround the building will be replaced with fire-rated ones. Police investigations revealed that a discarded cigarette butt that fell on a pile of waste sparked the fire. The cladding panels fuelled the fire because they were made of a petrochemical product that burns within minutes.
The flat owners, who faced emotional stress and financial losses running into millions of dirhams, have welcomed the move. “It’s very late but at least work has begun. I hope it doesn’t happen again, not only for Tamweel residents, but for all towers in general,” Niloofar Patel, owner of a three-bedroom flat on the 33rd floor that was gutted, told Gulf News.
“We went through torment. We lost everything we owned. The good thing was there was no loss of lives,” she added. Nehal Mehta, whose flat is next to the Patels’, said he also lost his opportunity to earn rental income from his Dh2 million investment in the tower.
“The annual rent for a three-bedroom flat like mine is at least Dh200,000. That’s Dh600,000 lost in three years,” the Indian expatriate said. “These three years have been a crazy time for all of us. I thought these delays only happen in India. It was a surprise to me to that it took this long to start the repair work in Dubai,” he added. Another owner, A.Z.H., is also suffering financially. He said he pays Dh10,000 for his monthly mortgage and personal loan for his Tamweel Tower property on top of his monthly rent. “It’s a big loss for us,” A.Z.H. said.
SOURCE : GULFNEWS