Dubai's Tamweel Tower owners still in limbo four years after fire

DUBAI // Four years after a fire engulfed Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, the building’s residents hope to return this year. But they are not confident that they could do so by June or July despite assurances from Arab Orient Insurance, the building’s insurer. Homeowners said they did not know which companies were involved […]

DUBAI // Four years after a fire engulfed Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, the building’s residents hope to return this year.

But they are not confident that they could do so by June or July despite assurances from Arab Orient Insurance, the building’s insurer.

Homeowners said they did not know which companies were involved in replacing the flammable cladding on the building, and they would like to regular updates about the work.

While aluminium cladding with an inflammable core remains a major safety issue in the UAE, property owners of Tamweel Tower said they believed that installing fire-rated cladding and stricter precautionary measures would ensure their safety when they return.

In October, installation of the new cladding and repairs to the apartments damaged in the blaze at the 34-storey tower in November 2012 began.

Hussein, a businessman who owns flats in the building, said he understood that the new cladding must be fireproof and that the civil defence department was involved in the matter.

“That gives me peace of mind, but I want to know when we can move back in because we were assured that repairs would be completed in nine months,” he said.

Hussein and his family have been living in rental flats and have moved four times in as many years. “There are plans for designated smoking areas and bans on barbecues in balconies so that a fire cannot happen for foolish reasons,” he said, adding that having all the cladding replaced might be beyond the budgets of homeowners.

Arab Orient Insurance declined to discuss the matter.

Hussein said the fire had caused financial losses to him and his family. “I have lost out on rental income and my own home, plus I have to pay rent after the fire. Any delay affects us, so I’m hoping that Orient Insurance abides by its promise and repairs are conducted properly,” he said.

For its part, Dubai Civil Defence said it had told Arab Orient Insurance to replace all the cladding on Tamweel Tower.

The repair work has made the 160-apartment building a test case for homeowners’ associations that work with developers.

The tower is the first residential building in Dubai on which repair work began on replacing cladding gutted by fire.

Prolonged delays have, however, affected the building’s repair work.

The homeowners of Tamweel Tower had obtained an estimate for the reconstruction and repairs needed after the fire and received approvals from the municipality.

The homeowners invited contractors to submit tenders for the repair work, but the tender that they agreed on was declined by the insurer, who appointed another party to estimate the losses from the blaze.

The Real Estate Regulatory Agency also decided that the insurance claim should be made by the property owners instead of the developer, Tamweel.

The group of property owners had to register with the real estate authority to operate a bank account. Homeowners said they were given a verbal assurance from the insurer that the repairs would be completed in nine months.

“The contractor has taken over the site, so no one has access for safety reasons. There is no way for us to ensure the quality of the final product,” said a homeowner. “The issue of fireproof cladding has been highlighted so much due to multiple fires that I’m comfortable moving back in after the repairs are over.”

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Address Downtown blaze brings back old memories

DUBAI // The New Year’s Eve fire at the Address Downtown hotel forced some Tamweel residents to relive the nightmare of their building burning down four years ago.

“When I saw the flames in the hotel my heart sank, the same old memory came back,” said Hussein, who gave only one name.

Along with family he watched the blaze engulf a section of the Address Downtown from a nearby apartment.

“My children again were in shock. The Address fire was clearly visible from our apartment. We prayed that everybody was safe and that no family should go through what our families have suffered,” he said.

His son and daughter are now 14 and 12 years old. The family can never forget fleeing from the burning building on November 18, 2012.

“How can we forget it? We were all sleeping at 1.30 in the morning. We heard the alarms and saw the fire. I could see the fire from my balcony and we all ran down.

But we love our old home, we are waiting to go back to a place we decorated from scratch, so have a lot of good memories also.”

There is one lesson he has learnt from the fire: My advice to all residents is insure everything. I learnt that, everything should be covered.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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