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‘Jordanians sent 2.1m SMSs to inquire about gov’t services in 2013’

By Mohammad Ghazal - Jan 12,2014 - Last updated at Jan 12,2014

AMMAN — Although the number of SMSs Jordanians sent in 2013 to inquire about public services via the e-government programme almost doubled, several citizens called for more efforts to promote the services.

“I didn’t know we could send text messages to inquire about government services. I guess I could use the services to check the weather forecast or if I have any traffic tickets,” Ehab Naieem, a 30-year old employee at a wholesale store in Amman, told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

Ibrahim Adel, who works at an accessories store, also said he was unaware of the services, but does not need to use them.

“If I want to know about weather, I check the Internet on my mobile, and I don’t have a car, so I don’t have to worry about traffic tickets,” the 24-year-old said.

“Sometimes I receive SMSs informing me that I can check the weather or taxes by sending a message to certain numbers, but I delete them immediately.”

Hussam Ahmad, a 34-year-old teacher, said he regularly uses the services to check his traffic tickets, but complained that he sometimes does not receive a response to his inquiries.

“I like to check sometimes because I might be ticketed without actually knowing that I was. So the service helps me know how much I have to pay,” Ahmad told The Jordan Times.

“But sometimes, I send an SMS to inquire about the tickets but do not get a reply,” he said.

Jordanians sent 2.1 million SMSs last year to inquire about public services via the e-government programme, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.

In 2012, they sent 1.083 million SMSs to ask about government services, the ministry’s secretary general, Nader Dhneibat, told The Jordan Times recently.

Citizens can inquire about 40 services provided by 27 public agencies using text messages, according to the ICT Ministry.

They can obtain information by texting the code of a service or a specific keyword to 94444, and will receive the information they request via an SMS from the same short code.

Codes of services can be found at www.jordan.gov.jo.

Mobile users can also access the SMS service by downloading an application from the same website that provides access to the 40 services

Meanwhile, government agencies sent 16.5 million messages in 2013 to mobile users in the Kingdom to highlight the services they provide or raise awareness on certain issues, according to Dhneibat.

E-government services are provided by several public agencies, including the justice, interior and trade ministries, and the Borders and Residency Permits Department.

These services include allowing people to obtain security clearances and background check certificates, renew professional and commercial registrations at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, renew business licences, inquire about traffic tickets and check weather forecasts online.

In 2006, the government formally inaugurated the e-government programme with the intention of streamlining bureaucracy and enhancing access to the Internet in rural areas. 

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