He said that Abbco Tower, was fitted with cladding that had been banned in 2016 and that only new builds of less than seven storeys or 23 metres – to allow for fire engine ladder length – were now allowed to fit the cladding.
There exists plenty of buildings built before the banning order however that still have the banned cladding included Abbco, which was built in 2006, and Al Naqbi said all old buildings found with the cladding – thought to be around 150 in Sharjah – would now have to have their cladding replaced.
‘’More than 150 old buildings in the emirate are fitted with banned cladding,” said Al Naqbi. “And the department in coordination with concerned authorities are working to amend them and replace them with safe materials .’’
Al Naqbi added that old buildings were already in the process of having their cladding replaced at the time of the fire and that Al Zahra Hospital, Fine Fair Building and Nasser Tower in the emirate had already responded to previous government calls to replace their cladding.
‘’There is plan for old buildings to replace dangerous material with safe ones,” said Al Naqbi. “Sharjah Civil Defence is now considering a programme to get buildings to replace old cladding and even help building owners conduct replacements and find alternative materials at a reduced cost.’’ He stressed that the safety of residents in buildings within the emirate remains the top priority of Sharjah Civil Defence.
“Sharjah Civil Defence is encouraging developers, real estate owners and contractors to adopt safer methods and systems other than cladding used in the facades of buildings, which entails a heavy financial burdens on real estate.”
As for allegations of fire escapes being blocked and furniture in the corridor hindering the safe escape of tenants, Al Naqbi said if any violations were found during the investigation the owner would face legal action.
Meanwhile, Sharjah International Charity has provided accommodation to 650 tenants on the directive of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and on Saturday night the charity conducted medical tests for the tenants in hotels to make sure they were free from coronavirus. Eighty eight firefighters and 22 fire engines from six stations were called to the scene and no injuries were reported among them.