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Mon 9 Aug 2010 09:38 AM

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Sharjah’s summer surprises

Well, it seems I've spent the last couple of weeks writing so much about the emirate down the road that I have been dubbed the resident ‘Sharjah expert.' This isn't true - I've never lived there, and I can still guarantee getting lost and stuck in endless traffic within ten minutes of crossing the border.

Sharjah’s summer surprises

Well, it seems I've spent the last couple of weeks writing so much about the emirate down the road that I have been dubbed the resident ‘Sharjah expert.' This isn't true - I've never lived there, and I can still guarantee getting lost and stuck in endless traffic within ten minutes of crossing the border.

Indeed, there has been no shortage of things to write about in that beleaguered place just recently. A string of fires, really big ones, followed by a number of horrendous industrial accidents, plus hauls of a few of the fake goods coming into the area make good copy.

However, it is the power cuts which are the main cause of woe in the emirate, and the number one culprit is a spike in energy used by the air-conditioning. Using external AC units wastes loads of energy, particularly when the temperature rises. When compared with, say, a modern district cooling plant the amount of power needed to chill each cubic meter is enormous, and with the heat as stifling as it is, there seems no point in ever switching such a unit off. Until, of course, it is too late.

Now, anybody reading who is involved in building services will know that you can't just construct district cooling plants and connect them into an existing network of buildings at the drop of a hat. It would take months of  planning, research and oodles of consultants to network the industrial sprawl that makes up most of the city. The amount of cash it would take would be phenomenal, and there would be many chances for it to go astray. So are there any other options?

Well, luckily yes. Sharjah has an abundance of natural gas, which can also be used to power AC units - something the powers that be are experimenting with at the moment. It would be quite expensive to connect every building to the supply - but a fraction of the cost of loosing power. It would also surely give the construction industry an opportunity to take part in the modernisation of the emirate.

Of course, all this is to dodge the real issue of metered supplies. Apparently, a high number of places don't have the supply monitored at all, so there is no incentive to ever switch anything off. Until this is resolved, you should expect to be sitting in the dark for a little while yet.

Greg Whitaker is editor of PMV Middle East.

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Rama 9 years ago

I would like to know the SEWA bills are comming nowadays every 2 weeks and the bills are 20 to 30 percent increase even though I dont have the Gas connection and our AC is on Central AC. and there is power cuts last month. but wait , why the amount is the increased. I am surprised to see. but no option to pay, I really planning to shift to Dubai. when you visit for enquiring the charges they laugh and no body listens.

Gloria 9 years ago

When most of the buiding for rent are old with window a/c - currently being charged at 500% rent increase from the original pre-property-boom rates with a take it or get out attitude from landlords; when bachelors are allowed into family buildings with no-one even being allowed to ask why they are there; and when Ramadan tents can be stuck right in the center of a carpark housing tenancies for families which forces the families to run a gauntlet of single men staring and commenting on them what kind of example is that of good inspection and management. When there is no power in the emirate, but millions can be spent on overseas projects to improve the image of Sharjah then there is something radically wrong with the mindset. Look to the people who are important - the people who are emiratis and the people who built the emirates. Look after them first and make their environment a safe one to live in and one that has the basic amenities at reasonable prices.