Overseeing construction activity worth up to €1.8 billion, Minister Sami Halaseh of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing has a long docket of projects to oversee, including a new customs Depot, industrial zones, schools and the rehabilitation of the Desert Highway, which has long suffered from potholes and fissures. Minister Halaseh, who also heads the National Building Council, Jordanian Engineers Association and Jordanian Constructions Contractors Association, details what projects are reshaping Jordan.
How important is the Desert Highway rehabilitation project, and what other transport activity is ongoing?
The Desert Highway rehabilitation project is high priority for Jordan. This roadway runs from Amman to Aqaba, forming a main artery of the country, and its rehabilitation will cost around €298 million. The project is being undertaken by a consortium of Saudi Arabian and Jordanian contractors, and managed by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing. Overall, we have projects under construction valued at up to €1.8 billion. Besides the Desert Highway rehabilitation project, within the transport sector we are also carrying out the construction of the Zarqa-Azraq Highway, which will create a better connection with Saudi Arabia and is considered a major highway for both countries.
What are the largest non-transport projects today?
The two big projects that we are overseeing today are the Amman Customs Depot and the construction of various industrial zones. The new Amman Customs Depot covers a large area in Madouneh and will cost around €112 million. Regarding the industrial zones, which are being partly financed by a Saudi grant, this project will establish infrastructure for future factories and better opportunities for investment.
How is USAID contributing to schools?
USAID is the leading source of funding for schools in Jordan at the moment. Through USAID grants, we have school projects under construction worth up to €238 million, including 25 new schools, 100 school extensions, and school maintenance. Around 34 Jordanian contractors working through 10 consulting offices are conducting these projects.
And how are they involved in hospital grants?
The recently awarded 147-bed Emergency Building in Al Bashir Hospital in Amman is also financed by USAID. Furthermore, we now have two more new hospitals coming up, which will cost around €119 million in Ma’an and Madaba governorates. In general, these projects are quite crucial for Jordan because they are all Public Hospitals.
Why is the Jordanian construction sector’s success important for the region?
Jordanian contractors should play a major part in the future reconstruction of Iraq and Syria, offering work of the highest quality. We know we can continue to build on this quality because whenever a big project comes to Jordan, through international contractors or investors, they seek a good portion of the local Jordanian contractors to hire.