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Jordan 2019 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

By normalizing relations with important neighbors in addition to boosting critical infrastructural links, Jordan's Ministry of Transport is sowing the seeds of long-term future growth.

Anmar Al Khasawneh
BIOGRAPHY
Anmar Al Khasawneh was appointed Minister of Transport in 2019. His previous positions include Secretary-General at the Ministry of Transport, General Director of the Land Transport Regulatory Authority, General Director of the Jordanian Hijazi Railway Corporation, and Secretary-General of The Ministry of Public Works and Housing. He sits on the board of directors of several institutions and holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

The Prime Minister has highlighted the transport sector as one of the key sectors for PPP projects. How is the ministry developing its policies and projects to support this aim?

The Jordan Long-Term National Transport Strategy (JNTS) is built on a number of main principles and policy pillars, and one of them is making the most of private participation in the transport sector so the private sector can positively contribute to the future of transport by investing in both infrastructure and operating services. This will be facilitated by setting up an appropriate regulatory environment. The ministry identified the projects that are potentially attractive in terms of revenue returns at the conference in London. One of the highlighted projects was the development of Amman-Marka Airport.

What is the ministry's strategy to promote multimodal transport in the Kingdom?

JNTS is based on national priorities and presents an integrated approach. To develop multimodal transport and integrate transport with smart land use, the ministry is focusing on reducing transport externalities, including environmental, safety, congestion externalities, and linking trade to international corridor development. This focus falls under another one of the strategy's main policy pillars, which is to pursue a multimodal approach and create excellent interconnections between modes, networks, and transport services. Ultimately, this will increase public transport ridership. Rail linkages are a major component of an efficient multimodal transport system, and one of the JNTS' major projects is the National Railway Project. Moreover, the development of rail networks is being coordinated with logistics developments such as Ma'an dry port project and Madouneh logistics center.

How is the ministry capitalizing on normalizing relations with Iraq and Syria to increase transport links with its neighbors?

Regarding Iraq, the Jordanian and Iraqi governments are in the process of reviewing economic relations to explore further cooperation and potential areas of mutual benefit. In the transport field, there is an agreement to increase the focus on the Karama-Trebil border crossing in addition to improving air and maritime connectivity. We signed an agreement to regulate and facilitate land transport between the two countries through the Karama-Trebil crossing, and as of February 2019, this crossing allows trucks to pass without unloading cargo, which facilitates customs procedures and reduces the cost of imports and exports. Furthermore, our governments are discussing the establishment of joint industrial zones, launching integrated industries, and joint investment projects between each country's private sectors to encourage Iraqi investments in the Kingdom. The two sides also stressed the importance of moving ahead with the implementation of the oil pipeline project from Iraqi territory to Aqaba, as well as an electric connection between the two countries. Meanwhile, though traditional land trade routes into Syria have been closed, the Nassib-Jaber border crossing was reopened after the completion of logistical preparations in October. This revival of a trade link worth billions of dollars marks a huge step toward reintegrating Syria into the regional economy. To emphasize the significance of this—albeit slow—reopening, maritime shipping between Jordan and Syria takes 40 days. By land, it takes just two. Additionally, transport company JETT re-launched its Amman-Damascus coach service.