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Fujairah market shop owners left destitute a month after fire

FUJAIRAH // A month on from the fire that tore through the Friday Market in Masafi, shop owners are still waiting for promised financial relief and Government support.

Some of those who lost their shops can no longer pay for their children’s schooling while others do not have a home or food to eat.

Sayd Abdalmajed, a 35-year-old Bangladeshi trader, lost four vegetable shops and one pottery shop during the fire.

“I feel like I’m tied up. I’m a man and can’t support my family and meet their needs. The situation is getting worse each day and I’m afraid that at some point I won’t be able to buy food for my family,” he said.

“Me and my partner lost Dh500,000. That was everything we had. Our life investment and 15 years of being an expatriate had vanished in one night, leaving me incapable of covering my kids’ school fees.”

His partner, Masoud Rana, said that they have 14 workers and now cannot afford to pay for their accommodation or even food.

“We don’t have money to pay the rent for the workers’ accommodation, or salary, and we can’t send them back because we can’t afford to pay for their tickets – sometimes they don’t have money to buy food,” he said.

“We are still waiting for news from the Government side. Each time we visit the public prosecution to check, they inform us that still no decision has been made.”

The 38-year-old Bangladeshi said that he believed in the justice of this country and that sooner or later those who had lost everything would have the support of the Government.

Mohsen Ahmmad, 40, another Bangladeshi vegetable shop owner, who started working in the market in 1999, said that he lost Dh57,000 when one of his two shops burnt down. He is now trying in vain to recoup his losses with his second shop.

“I was the owner of two vegetable shops and now I lost one in the fire. [Even with two shops] my income was barely covering the expenses and now, after losing a shop, I hardly manage,” he said. “Instead of earning and saving money, I’m spending in order to keep my shop running and pay the bills.”

He said that he was still waiting for news regarding financial support.

“Until now nobody has confirmed that we will get any compensation,” he said. “Each time I ask they tell me maybe next month. Hopefully they will compensate us.”

The Khan family owned three large carpet shops and said they had lost about Dh15 million.

They said that the Ruler of Fujairah had promised to give them money, but that they were still waiting for a decision to be made.

Akim Khan, a 31-year-old Pakistani, said: “We heard that the Ruler would compensate us with 30 to 50 per cent of the total lost, but nothing is confirmed yet. We lost huge amounts of money, almost Dh15m, and 50 passports.

“We can’t leave the country or even send the workers back home without passports. The municipality gave us the documents to begin the process of issuing new passports, but the process is taking too much time and only five passports have been issued during the past three weeks,” he said.

Azghar Khan, a 40-year-old Pakistani, said the family’s shopworkers were living in their other shop.

“We can’t afford to pay for their rent so we let them sleep in the shop,” he said.

Fujairah Municipality officials were unavailable for comment.

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(via The National)