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Gov’t seeking solutions to Aqaba’s development issues — Razzaz

PM visits coastal city’s ports, directs increased support to health, education sectors

By JT - Jul 24,2019 - Last updated at Jul 24,2019

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz visits Aqaba's cotainer ports during a trip to the southern governorate, 330km south of Amman, on Tuesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — The government is seeking solutions to Aqaba’s development issues, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said on Tuesday, noting that the southern governorate is “making great strides” in economic, tourism and investment fields.

During a meeting with Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) Chief Commissioner Nayef Bakhit, the governorate's MPs and a number of other officials, Razzaz noted that Aqaba’s education and healthcare sectors require increased support from the relevant ministries and public institutions, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

The premier stressed the importance of cooperation between the Royal Medical Services and the Ministry of Health in resolving the issues of the sector in Aqaba by developing comprehensive healthcare centres that provide services around the clock, especially in remote areas such as Wadi Araba and the Disi and Quraiqera valleys. 

He said that the government has requested the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company to rectify the issue of a recent leakage in its factory’s tanks and keep up necessary maintenance measures to ensure the safety of both employees and the public. 

For his part, Bakhit briefed the officials on Aqaba’s projects that are currently under implementation, which include one to renovate the Great Arab Revolt Plaza at a value of JD16 million. 

He pointed to the construction of a mechanical it purification plant at a cost of JD28 million, in addition to the establishment of “labour cities” in north and south Aqaba for JD8 million.

Bakhit said that the Aqaba flood protection project has neared completion, at a cost of JD35 million. 

Other projects include public parks, developing the King Hussein International Airport, creating an investment and logistics zone in Quweira, Rashidieh and Wadi Rum, in addition to the Maan railway project and the Maan land port, according to Bakhit. 

The ASEZA commissioner explained that the authority seeks to increase the number of visitors to the coastal city from 1 million to 1.2 million by the end of next year, in addition to increasing the number of hotel rooms from 5,200 to 6,000 during the same period.

During a field visit to Aqaba’s newly developed containers port on Tuesday, Razzaz affirmed the government’s support to Aqaba, in line with His Majesty King Abdullah’s vision.

“The ports are the gates of the Kingdom,” as Aqaba is the only sea outlet for Jordan to the region and the world, the premier said during his visit, on which he was accompanied by Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri, Minister of State for Prime Ministry Affairs Sami Daoud and Bakhit.

Aqaba’s ports have achieved real successes on the ground, the premier said, highlighting that the containers port has received international appreciation certificates and contributed to reducing shipping costs.

The project, in which the government has a 50-per cent stake and with 99.4-per cent Jordanian workforce, generated some JD50 million last year, Razzaz said, describing it as a “model of public-private partnership”. 

The premier started his visit to the port city with touring the headquarter of Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT), which has facilities that can accommodate mega ships with a total depth of 18 metres and a length of 540 metres, and spreads over an estimated area of 500,000 square metres.

Razzaz also checked on the phosphate plant where a leakage was reported a few days ago, instructing the tasking of an expert third party to assess the conditions of the storage tanks. 

He also visited Aqaba Company for Ports Operation and Management (Aqaba new port), which includes nine berths, according to Petra.

Also during his visit to the coastal city, 330km south of Amman, Razzaz convened with about 25 youths and expressed the government’s commitment to entrench a suitable environment for furthering young people’s participation in economic, political and social life, as well as involve them in decision making processes.

He pointed out that the “knowledge stations” in the Kingdom’s governorates have been turned into incubators to support young people underlining that this should be given priority in Aqaba.

Razzaz also listened to the youth’s needs and demands, which mainly focused on developing the level of health and education, giving residents priority in employment opportunities in the port city and establishing a local business incubator.

The demands also included allocating land plots to the residents of Aqaba, in light of the limited area and growing population.

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