Sawaber evacuation ultimatum expires today, tenants threaten legal action

KUWAIT: This file photo shows flames and smoke emitting from a building at the Sawaber Residential Complex in Kuwait City on June 15, 2010. Lingering problems surrounding the 35-year-old complex led the government to evacuate it and proceed with a plan to demolish it. —KUNA

KUWAIT: This file photo shows flames and smoke emitting from a building at the Sawaber Residential Complex in Kuwait City on June 15, 2010. Lingering problems surrounding the 35-year-old complex led the government to evacuate it and proceed with a plan to demolish it. —KUNA

KUWAIT: As the ultimatum to evacuate the Sawaber Residential Complex expires today, and in light of the government’s looming plans to demolish the key estate in downtown Kuwait City, the issue could be heading towards further complication as a number of residents still refuse to cooperate with evacuation calls and plan to seek legal action to keep hold on what they say is rightfully theirs.

The Ministry of Finance said yesterday that an announcement for a tender to demolish the Sawaber complex will be published in the next issue of the state’s official gazette ‘Kuwait Al-Youm.’ The ministry explained that the bidding conditions would be set soon and that the company offering the highest bid would be authorized to pull down the complex provided all safety and security measures are followed.

Sit-in
This comes amid reports indicating that around a hundred citizens who still refuse to evacuate their apartments in the complex, shedding uncertainty about their fate as of today. Last week, the government announced that public services, including electricity and water would be cut from the complex after the deadline.

Al-Qabas yesterday quoted a statement by 24 apartment owners he stressed that they would not yield to any threats or intimidation attempts, adding that they do possess proper lawful ownership deeds that prove their rights.

Citizen Faisal Ali, one of the owners, criticized what he described as lawmakers’ silence about practices of the finance ministry and its state property department, including ‘threats’ to disconnect power. “The notices we received from the department are inhumane though we live in the Center of Humanity,” he underlined, referring to a term Kuwait has been coined with by the United Nations in 2014. He further urged National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem to ‘undo the injustice’ they had been suffering form.

The owners also threatened to go on an ‘open strike’ and sue the concerned state authorities if those threats were put into practice.

Notably, the state property department at the finance ministry had given a grace period to 24 citizens living at the complex to evict their apartments by march 31, 2016 and to get clearances from the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) to finish their transactions.

‘Unfair pay’
In a related issue, Bader Al-Weqayyan, Director of the Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) ordered paying the Sawaber complex eviction committee members KD 30 each for their efforts though they had worked for three months trying to convince tenants evict their apartments, Al-Anbaa reported yesterday quoting sources.

Most members received these news with frustration, the sources said, noting that they have been using their own vehicles, going to the complex on almost daily basis, and had to deal with rejection from many tenants because they did not had judicial powers. “The PAHW has previously rewarded Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Electricity and Water with a KD 1,000 reward each for taking part in other eviction operations,” the sources argued.

By A Saleh and agencies


This article was published on 30/03/2016