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Amman merchants seeking compensation for flood damages

By Dana Al Emam - Nov 07,2015 - Last updated at Nov 07,2015

AMMAN — Following Thursday’s floods that caused damages to properties in the capital, a debate emerged on who will compensate owners of damaged shops and vehicles.

The Garment Traders Association (GTA) on Thursday asked owners of damaged shops in downtown Amman to calculate and document their losses in order to measure their total volume, GTA President Sultan Allan told The Jordan Times over the phone on Saturday.

He said the association was due to meet on Saturday evening to decide on a unified stance on the issue, and it also seeks to call for an urgent meeting with Amman Mayor Aqel Biltaji and the Greater Amman Municipality’s (GAM) executive apparatus to find middle ground.

“Our biggest concern is to ensure that the issue does not happen again,” Allan added, noting that some shops in the downtown area estimate their losses to be around JD50,000.

In remarks to The Jordan Times on Thursday, Allan estimated the total value of damages to exceed JD5 million.

In an interview with Jordan Television’s 60 Minutes on Friday, Biltaji said no amount of preparations would have been enough to deal with the “unprecedented” rainfall.

He noted that the city’s 60,000 manholes, which underwent the needed maintenance, are designed to drain up to 20 millimetres per day, while 40 millimetres of rain fell in  only in 30 minutes on Thursday.

Biltaji described the heavy downpour that caused flash floods as a “natural disaster”, noting that those whose stores or cars were damaged will be compensated by their insurance firms.

He said GAM will investigate any “intended or unintended” damages, and will consult neutral institutions, such as the Royal Scientific Society, in auditing the municipality’s measures.

Lawyer Abdullah Jaradat said if GAM refuses to compensate owners of the damaged properties, they have the right to file a lawsuit. The court will then task a committee of experts to look into the case.

He said experts decide whether the municipality is responsible for the failure of the sanitation system by studying the timing of the floods; if the streets were flooded at the beginning of the downpour, then the sanitation system is most likely to be down regardless of the intensity of the rain.

Article 5 of the Municipalities Law holds municipalities responsible for rain drainage, according to Jaradat.

Commenting on insurance, he said compensation depends on whether “force majeure” is included in the contract, noting that the government obliged insurance firms to compensate for damages caused by a snowstorm last year.

“I hope the government takes a similar decision at least to compensate for damaged vehicles,” he told The Jordan Times.

Allan said only some 20 per cent of association members have their properties insured, and insurance contracts do not usually cover natural disasters.

In a statement issued after the meeting late Saturday, the GTA said it plans to urge decision makers to take immediate measures to reduce the burden on garment traders by revisiting customs duties and taxes and exempting the sector from its financial obligations for a limited period.


Association members can request compensation for the losses they incurred in accordance with the relevant laws, with the syndicate offering counsel to them on this issue, the statement said.

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