Muscat: A majority of all insurance claims made by people affected by Cyclone Shaheen have been assessed, a senior official involved in the matter has said.
Dr Abdurahman Sulaiman Al Shahi, the director general of the Directorate General of Social Development in the North and South Al Batinah said in an interview that the review of files put forth for consideration was in its final stages.
“We are now considering the cases of people who have lodged grievances with us, and are re-evaluating their grievance forms,” he said. “So far we have completed a review of almost 95 percent of these cases. We expect to begin the payment process shortly.”
Al Shahi was speaking to Shabiba FM, the radio station of Al Shabiba, the sister Arabic publication of the Times of Oman. There are more than 19,000 claims that are entitled to compensation, with a few still under assessment.
“We have faced challenges in terms of payment and compensation, because there were shortages in the terms of the number of teams responsible for verifying and investigating the extent of damages reported,” he said. “Furthermore, many of the damages took place within densely populated areas, requiring us to expend more efforts towards evaluation.
“We addressed such challenges by coordinating with the Ministry of Social Development,” he added. “However, we have come across some claims that require re-evaluation, as well as others where the forms and details requires have been submitted on more than one occasion. This has caused us to verify whether such claims are eligible for compensation, according to the documents which prove their eligibility. We need to verify such claims because we must make sure that those who truly require compensation receive it accordingly.”
Cyclone Shaheen battered Oman on 3 October, 2021, after intensifying over the Arabian Sea for days. It battered the coasts of northern Oman, with most of its impact felt by towns in North Al Batinah.
The terrible weather unleashed a continuous torrent of rain that caused wadis to overflow, flooded people’s homes, and washed away the property of many others. The intense climatic conditions also led to the uprooting of electricity and telephone poles, and deposited debris in the form of rocks and trees across many key roads, impeding traffic to affected areas.
About OMR200 million has been allocated in the 2022 State Budget to address the damages caused by Shaheen.
“Oman was recently hit by tropical cyclone Shaheen, which took a toll on the community and infrastructure of some cities,” said the Ministry of Finance in their budget report. “However, with the efforts of government entities and members of society, life has returned to normal.”
Because of the devastating impact of the cyclone, some of the people who wished to claim compensation for damages suffered have not been able to locate the right documents.
Al Shahi, however, said that people in such a situation would also have their claims considered.
“We have met with a number of people who are in this situation,” he said in this context. “An independent committee has been formed to consider people who are impacted in this manner, and have submitted grievances.
“I personally communicated with a citizen when we realised his claim had been made public through Shabiba FM, but then realised that the claim was not registered in his name, but under his son,” he added.
“This claim has been closed, and the people in question are entitled to support. Their claim will be settled within two weeks. There are about 13,500 claimants who are entitled to other forms of support as well.”