Some camps in Msheireb District house about 250 shop employees. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar

By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter

Thousands of low-income expatriates, mostly employees of shops in the Msheireb area, will be affected by Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation’s (Kahramaa) scheduled disconnection of electricity today (April 4).
“About 25,000 people are staying in this area,” a resident said yesterday, a statement repeated by many others who spoke to Gulf Times.
The residents expressed disappointment over the electricity disconnection by complaining that they were only informed seven days ago through the notices posted on the wall of each camp in the area.
“This is a big problem for all of us. How can thousands of people find a house in seven days?” asked a resident of a camp which houses about 250 people. Some of the camps can house as many as 300 while small ones can only accommodate 50 to 100 people.
However, local Arabic daily Al Watan earlier quoted Homoud al-Shafi, a senior municipal official, saying that residents in the area were notified in advance to evacuate the buildings and look for alternative accommodation.  
Following proper procedures, he noted that sufficient time was given to those who will be affected by the project.
Most of the residents of the old and dilapidated buildings are Asian expatriates - Nepalis, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankans - employed in hundreds of different shops operating within Msheireb.
The employees who refused to be named said if they were only given a notice three months ago, it could have been easier for them to find at least an alternative residence.
A Bangladeshi who has been operating an electronics repair shop for 25 years along Al Asmak street in Msheireb insisted that no one from Kahramaa had talked to residents concerning the disconnection.
“We only saw people whom we believed were not from Kahramaa posting these disconnection notices on the walls almost a week ago,” he said.
The technician stressed that he pays his monthly rental on time, the latest was on March 31 which he personally handed to his landlord.
“I gave him the money and he left without saying anything or telling me and other tenants to leave our accommodations tomorrow,” he said. The place where he stays is only a few metres away from his shop.
Like other business establishments in Msheireb, his electronics shop which had been operating since 1987 will be spared from the scheduled disconnection of electricity, as all business establishments in the area have been given two more years to operate.
Employees of a travel agency said this extension was based on an agreement signed between the shopowners and the developer of the Msheireb Downtown Doha, described as the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project.
Asked what they will do if Kahramma disconnects power today, the residents said: “We do not know since we do not know where to go”.
One Nepali could only think of filing complaints to police and “to proper authorities” for what he believes was an unfair move against thousands of employees.
“But all government offices are closed during Fridays, we will have a hard time to air our complaints,” he added.
Msheireb Downtown Doha is a flagship project of Msheireb Properties designed to “preserve the historical heart of Doha”. It will feature numerous outlets including a mall, designed to transform the area into an “unparalleled retail, leisure and entertainment hub.”