KARACHI: Even though the renovation work at Regent Plaza hotel was kicked off the same day the fire broke out, the guests of the hotel and various travel agencies’ outlets that were operating on the hotel’s ground floor have not been compensated or even contacted by the management in this regard.
An air of gloom descended over the Regent Plaza Hotel on Tuesday, a day after the deadly fire swept through the four-star hotel. Two female workers of the hotel sat outside their workplace, oblivious to what is happening around them, as they kept staring at half-burnt wooden sofas that were being dumped at the entrance.
“It is so sad to see the place where we used to work daily, completely burnt,” said one of the workers, who was not willing to share her name. “We do not know when the hotel will start operating again and what the fate of our jobs is,” the other worker said.
Travel agencies’ offices
While the hotel staff dumped the charred remains of furniture and carpets outside the hotel on Tuesday, several travel agencies offices, which were located just at the entrance of the hotel, were left on their own. One of the travel agents of Karwan-e-Jamal, Muhammad Asif, said his travel agency’s office has been completely burnt down in the inferno. “All the windowpanes are broken,” he said, adding that no hotel official has contacted them as yet even though the management has started the hotel’s renovation work.
According to Asif, most of the travel agencies’ offices operating inside the hotel, including his own, were operating on the ‘pagri system’. “We had purchased the shop from the hotel but we are not its owner,” he said. He said that as per the agreement, the travel agencies pay the hotel some amount monthly or yearly, while few of the agencies’ outlets in the hotel are on rent. A travel agent working for Al Saeed Haj and Umra Pvt Ltd claimed that despite several attempts to contact the hotel management, they have not received any answer from the management.
No alternative accommodation
One of the guests staying at the hotel, Jamal, told The Express Tribune that the hotel management cooperated with them in getting back their luggage after the fire incident. “[However], we were not provided any alternative residence and neither has our money been refunded,” he claimed, adding that they had to shift to one of their relative’s house. Several other guests of the Regent Plaza Hotel have also moved to other hotels in the city after the fire incident.
Commenting on the situation, Asif Iqbal, who is an expert in hotel management, said that such hotels are mostly insured. He added that owners of the shops and travel agency offices running inside the hotel have to be patient because it takes time for the management to take decisions. Referring to the guests’ accommodation and refund, Iqbal said it can be done once the hotel gets their insurance money. The hotel’s management was not available for comments, despite repeated attempts.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2016.