With reporting from Ankita Menon
Hundreds of Barwa City residents are embroiled in an ongoing dispute with management about dissatisfaction with facilities and unexpectedly high utility bills.
The development received its first tenants just over a year ago, and is designed to eventually house up to 25,000 people.
It is part of a series of residential developments built by the company across Doha to provide affordable housing for families, including Barwa Village in Wakra and Barwa’s Mesaimeer Complex.
The complaints at Barwa City come on the heels of an announcement this week that amenities on the site have now been completed.
They include a supermarket, fitness center, playgrounds, a large mosque and a school for 2,000 students. Representatives have also told local news media that the city is now 90 percent occupied.
However, tenants say many residential buildings still appear to be empty, and that the promised site amenities seem “far from open.” One resident named Corrine told Doha News:
“The highly advertised amenities that initially attracted us to Barwa City are non-existent or are far from being completed. Barwa City prides itself on being a family community, but they have supplied nothing to support that claim.
For example, although we do enjoy the large grassy areas, there are no playgrounds. There are two fenced playgrounds that belong to Newton’s Kindergarten/Pre-school, for their exclusive use.”
Meanwhile, resident Ahmed Ali highlighted a lack of prayer provisions, saying that the existing mosque doesn’t have sufficient capacity on Fridays. He added that he was disappointed at the lack of facilities, which he had been told would be open by September 2013. The opening was then pushed to April 2014.
Responding to these complaints, a manager from property management firm Waseef Facility and Asset Management, who asked not to be named, told Doha News that the amenities were “in process,” and “almost finished.”
He added that that Lulu Hypermarket would open at the end of April, and that the private leisure club was due to open in around three month’s time. He also stated that playgrounds were “already available.”
Furthermore, several residents have told Doha News that they are disputing unexpectedly high utility bills for gas and chilled water with Waseef.
Resident Corinne told Doha News that she received her first utility bill from the company on Jan. 31, 2014 – and that it was due the same day. The charge was QR3,514.13 for five months’ worth of gas and water – an average of QR702/month.
“It’s a collective utility bill for everyone. So if someone was on vacation for a month, their bill would be same as their neighbors,” she said.
Another resident who spoke to Doha News, Nora Elwahabi, said:
“The utility bills are ridiculously high – which we had no idea about before moving in. Like many others, we have not paid the bills yet, and are hoping the company comes up with a more sensible amount.”
The Waseef manager told Doha News that each resident’s contract specifies two fixed utility charges – one for gas and heating, and one for chilled water. On top of this, residents must pay for their individual water consumption, which is measured using individual meters, he told us.
However, residents told Doha News that these terms and conditions were far from clear when they entered into contracts at Barwa. They cited information sheets given to them that detailed a lower, fixed monthly rate for utilities based on the size of their apartments.
For example, residents of two-bedroom flats should be paying a monthly utility charge of QR355/month. However, according to one tenant’s bill, which covered four months, he was charged QR1,714 – QR294 higher than expected.