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Aqaba clearance company workers protest new ‘dangerous’ location

By Laila Azzeh - Mar 27,2016 - Last updated at Mar 27,2016

Aqaba clearance company workers hold a protest in the port city, some 330km south of Amman, on Sunday (Photo courtesy of Aqaba clearance companies’ Facebook page)

AMMAN — Several workers at Aqaba clearance companies are striking in protest against a decision to relocate them to a new area, which they claim is situated in a “dangerous” location.

The new site, dubbed “Square 4”, is 20km away from the customs border centres, while the road leading to it — the daily route of more than 3,000 trucks — is known as the “death road”.

The decision to move to the new location was made by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA).

“It is true that the route to Square 4 is difficult, but that is not our decision and we have to continue to provide our services,” Abdul Menem Azaizeh, president of the Association of the Owners of Cargo Shipment and Clearance Companies, told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

He noted that there are 800 clearance company employees in Aqaba, around 200 of whom have been protesting the decision to relocate since Saturday.

“While we understand where they are coming from, we cannot do anything,” Azaizeh said.

On the other hand, Mahmoud Khleifat, ASEZA secretary general and commissioner for customs and revenues, said the new location will offer one-stop for the clearance process, with the presence of all the necessary institutions, including the Jordan Food and Drug Administration, the Jordan Standards and Metrology Organisation and the agriculture department.

“Square 4 is a model custom’s area that we have been preparing since 2010 to develop inspection measures,” he told The Jordan Times, adding that ASEZA will cooperate with the Public Works Ministry to open two additional lanes for the road to the location.

“Employees can take another road to Square 4,” Khleifat noted, and the route to the new location is “not any different from other roads in the Kingdom that are open to trucks”.

At a meeting with the Lower House labour, social development and housing committee on Sunday to discuss the issue, the committee of workers at clearance companies in Aqaba refused the decision, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The workers’ committee also threatened to go on strike at all customs centres if the decision is implemented.

 

Aqaba Development Corporation CEO Ghassan Ghanem said Public Works Minister Sami Halaseh directed stakeholders to revamp the road to Square 4 and provide free transportation to the area for workers, visitors and clearance companies, Petra added. 

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