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Jordan’s transport infrastructure set for an upgrade

Jordan: Thursday, October 19 - 2006 @ 09:39

Both projects are geared to boosting the kingdom’s long-term economy, marking key early stepping stones on the path to transforming Jordan into a modern, regional business and transport hub.

Getting on track

Fast and effective rail travel in Jordan has always been a non-starter. The renowned Hejaz railway, originally designed to run all the way from Damascus to Medina, still operates on a fragmented basis in Jordan, offering occasional freight and passenger services between the kingdom and Syria, as well as a ‘phosphates line’ from mines in Ma’an to Aqaba, but rail travel is a woefully under-utilised mode of transport.

The proposed 28 kilometre light rail link from Amman to the industrial city of Zarqa is clearly intended to change all that. The tender for the project, according to the Jordan Times, will be floated on December 10 and the project, which could cost up to $140 million, will be offered on a build, operate and transfer basis. The winning bid should hopefully be revealed next March.

One of the main factors behind the project is alleviating traffic congestion on the main highway between the two cities and once the rail system is fully operational, it is hoped 100,000 commuters a day will climb aboard and leave their cars at home. Indeed, with a road traffic accident every seven and a half minutes on average in Jordan and two deaths a day, less congestion will be no bad thing.

Zarqa is home to more than 50 per cent of Jordan’s industrial plants and with Tameer also intent on building a 7,000 home township for low income families on the way to Amman, better transport facilities in the area are vital. Once the scheme is on track, plans are in place to extend the rail link up to the Syrian border and also to Queen Alia International Airport.

QAIA expansion

The Jordanian Ministry of Transport has announced that six qualified consortiums have been chosen to bid for the $284 million contract to build a new terminal at Queen Alia International Airport. The winner, due to be named in February, will once again receive the tender on a BOT basis and will build a 900,000 square foot terminal alongside the existing one, with a completion date of 2010. A sizeable number of regional firms, most especially from Turkey and the Gulf Arab states, are part of the various consortiums.

Amer Hadidi, the Secretary General at the ministry, told the Jordan Times that the airport expansion plan was part of a drive to make Jordan a regional hub and once it is completed, QAIA should be able to handle around nine million passengers a year, nearly three times as many as it does now.

Indeed, with flag-carrier Royal Jordanian transporting a total of 223,000 passengers in August, a 15 per cent jump on the same month last year and the highest ever single month figure since the airline was founded, the tender for the new terminal building is timely. RJ is also set to join the Oneworld alliance at the start of 2007 and President/CEO Samer Majali believes that this too will significantly boost passenger load factors and bolster throughput at Jordanian airports.

More in the pipeline

Any nation looking to drive forward its economic development needs to provide modern and convenient transport links and services in order to attract investment. With fresh tenders in the pipeline and feasibility studies commissioned for new road construction schemes as well as further possible additions to the rail network, Jordan is keen to make sure its infrastructure keeps pace with the flurry of major construction projects.

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Thursday, October 19- 2006 @ 9:39 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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