In this interview, H.E. Eng. Anmar Al-Khasawneh, Minister of Transport of Jordan, discusses the state of transport infrastructure in the country, and some of the achievements and goals of the ministry in addressing shortfalls.
What have been the main impacts brought by the development assistance to the improvement of transport infrastructure in Jordan?
The demand for goods and passenger transport is growing at a rapid pace due to population and economic growth in Jordan and the region. This growth is concentrated in parts of transport networks, near main urban areas and along major corridors. As a result, parts of the networks are under pressure. Performance does not meet the required need. According to the computerized system for forecasting transport, if not seriously intervene, the situation will worsen. At the end of the next decade, the transportation system will not be able to provide the required performance to support the Jordanian economy and the daily life of citizens. This will increase the delay and reduce reliability and increase the cost on the activities of citizens and workers, adversely affecting the economic performance of the country.
The provision of financial resources is one of the main challenges for the development of the transport system in Jordan to finance investment in new infrastructure, expansion or maintenance and renovation of the existing infrastructure, and to operate transport services for both passengers and goods.
The U.S Jordan free trade agreement was U.S’s first FTA with an Arab country. What has been the impact of this FTA to the transports sector?
The United States and Jordan continue to benefit from an extensive economic partnership. A key element of this relationship is the United States-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which entered into force on December 17, 2001, and was implemented fully on January 1, 2010.
Jordan's economic and trade relations with the United States have increased over the last few years as a result of the entry into force of the QIZ and FTA agreements. These relations are particularly important for Jordan as an important hub in the Middle East. The volume of Jordanian exports to US markets has increased, with trade between Jordan and America increasing by 600 percent in recent years. The agreement revived the Jordanian economy through increased exports, which contributed to the revival of supporting services sectors such as transport, and made Jordan a center of trade in the Middle East.
The agreement encouraged the entry of US direct investment and the FTA allowed indirect investments from other countries. This is reflected in the transport and shipping sector.
Which are the best opportunities to foreign investors interested in Jordan transport sector right now and what are the advantages the country offers on this regard?
The most prominent projects submitted by the Ministry of Transport as investment opportunities are:
What are the advantages that a greater role of railways will bring?
To what extent are PPPs important to develop the new railway infrastructure and what opportunities arise regarding foreign investors on the sector?
The Ministry of Transport is looking for a strategic partner to implement this project as an investment opportunity, so the chance is open to all investors who pay attention in this project, and in accordance to Jordan local laws including Jordan Investment Fund Law No. 16 of 2016.
According to the Jordan Investment Fund Law (mentioned above), the project is excluded from the provisions of the Public Private Partnership (PPP).
What policies have been implemented by the new government until now to ensure reliable transport-connecting routes?
What would you say have been your most significant achievements in the public works and transport sector during your time as a Minister?
I worked in the Ministry of Public Works and housing as a secretary General of the Ministry and the most important achievements are as follows:
1. Road projects and circular road projects, for each of the centers of the governorates of the kingdom and the capital, three parts of the first phase of this project were implemented. The second phase of the project has been studied and is ready for implementation if the funds are available, Where the system will be implemented through (BOT).
2. Routine periodic maintenance bids were submitted through a study prepared by a foreign consultant and prioritization of road maintenance.
What would you aim to achieve as a Minister of the Government of Jordan and what are the main actions you are taking to make those ambitions real?