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Jordan plans $1b rail network
2004 October 2

  Jordan yesterday announced that it is spearheading a plan for a billion-dollar regional railway network connecting the Hashemite kingdom with neighbouring countries, including Iraq, where huge quantities of hardware are needed for reconstruction.

The Jordanian government is about to float a tender, whereby international firms will be invited to present their proposals as to how the project should best proceed, according to the Secretary General of the Transport Ministry Alaa Batayneh.

“We are currently studying the tender’s terms of reference with an international expert before floating it,” he said.

“The move is essentially part of the government’s strategy to enhance trade exchanges with Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt,” he added.

Batayneh expected the complete construction of the railway network would take 20 years with an estimated cost of 1 billion dollars.

“The government will bear the cost of the railway’s infrastructure, while the private sector is expected to operate the network’s routes,” he said.

Earlier this week, Iraqi Transport Minister Louai Hatem said that negotiations were underway between Jordan and Iraq for establishing a rail system linking the two countries.

An Iraqi technical team will travel to Amman shortly to discuss details of the project.

Baghdad’s early involvement in the project reflects Jordan’s mounting ambition to become the gateway for Iraq’s reconstruction.

Since the collapse of the former regime of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba has been witnessing unprecedented congestion due to a flurry of import orders by Iraqi traders, and is increasingly becoming the main conduit of Iraqi trade. 

Bids invited for Amman, 28-kilometre Zarqa railway
2004 September 2

  The Public Transport Regulatory Commission (PTRC) yesterday invited local, Arab and international companies to bid for the construction of a 28-kilometre railway commuter network connecting the Raghadan area in the capital with the industrial city of Zarqa. 

According to PTRC Director General Mohammad Hamed, the railway will be designed to meet the expected increase in passenger traffic between Amman and Zarqa, which are home to 2 million and 900,000 residents respectively. 

Currently, 150,000 passengers shuttle between the two cities daily and are served by 280 public transport buses. 

The official expected work on the railway to start in a few months and to end by 2008.

Hamed told The Jordan Times that the dual-track railway, where an electrical train will run, is expected to cost around $100 million and will be built either on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) or a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis.

"One advantage of operating an electrical train is that it is environment-friendly compared to trains running on diesel," said Hamed. 

Another benefit is that it will help reduce car accidents on the highway connecting Amman with Zarqa. 

The official said he expected the railway to be extended by around 18 kilometres late in 2008 or early 2009 to connect Raghadan with Abdali, the Sports City, the University of Jordan and Sweileh. 

The government formed a steering committee headed by Minister of Transport Raed Abu Saud two months ago to follow up on the railway project.

Contractors want further customs reductions on imported steel bars
2004 May 4

  Describing the Cabinet's decision last week to reduce customs duties on imported steel bars as “a step in the right direction,” the Jordan Construction Contractors Association (JCCA) on Monday demanded the government to authorise more reductions in the near future. “Lowering customs from 30 to 20% on imported steel bars was a good move. We hope the government will build on it and remove the duties altogether,” JCCA Vice President Dherar Sarayrah said. He added that abolishing the customs will help reduce prices of imported steel bars in the domestic market and minimise contractors' expenses. Ministry of Industry and Trade Secretary General Farouq Hadidi declined to elaborate except to say that the government will look into the association's demand. According to JCCA statistics, prices of steel bars, used mainly to reinforce concrete in the construction of buildings, stand now at JD420 per ton for grade 60 and JD415 per ton for grade 40. “These prices are nearly 40% higher compared to last year,” indicated Sarayrah. Jordan's annual need of steel bars is estimated at 350,000 tons, 20% of which is imported. Meanwhile, Jordan Institution for Standards and Metrology (JISM) issued Monday warning notices for eight steel factories. According to the official Jordan News Agency, Petra, the factories were not abiding by production standards adopted in the domestic market. Head of JISM's Quality Control Department Salameh Qatarneh was quoted by Petra as saying that the institute will continue conducting random inspections on steel factories to make sure that they abide by specifications. According to law, violators are subject to legal measures including paying fines.

Jordan Council of Ministers to Reduce Duties on Imported Steel Products
2004 April 29

  According to recent news in the market, Ministerial Council of Jordan has recently decided to reduce duty on imported steel and cement from 30% to 20%. Jordan Ministry of Industry and Trade was in preparation of taking certain measures with respect to steel industry in the country. The decision of reducing steel duties was announced previously however to what level they would be reduced was not announced. Upon the scope of subject measures, apart from the reduction in the duties, new regulation on steel prices is planned to be implemented and exports of certain steel products to be restricted.

Jordan Steel ups cash dividends to shareholders
2004 April 22

  Despite a 15% drop in sales and a 5.7% decline in net pretax profit last year, Jordan Steel will be distributing JD3.3 million in cash dividends to shareholders at a rate of 22%, as authorised by the general assembly during an ordinary session earlier this month. The company distributed JD3.0 million in cash dividends at a rate of 20% in 2002. According to the 10th annual report for 2003, sales dropped from JD28.6 million in 2002 to JD24.3 million at the end of last year. Net pretax profit was down to JD4.7 million from JD5.0 million in 2002. Mudar Badran, Board Chairman described the results as very good, especially in a year characterised by major political instability and suffering from the repercussions of the US occupation of Iraq. As a result, exports to the Iraqi market came to a complete halt. However, he told the shareholders in the annual report that Jordan Steel was able to compensate part of the Iraqi export market by increasing exports to Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, where sales rose more than 12,000 tons over the 2002 level, which was not disclosed. He said that local consumption also went up by around 18,000 tons over the 2002 level, noting that sales of new types of steel produced by the company have doubled. "Sales increased and competed against imported types of steel in the Aqaba region," Badran wrote in the annual report, pointing out that the company produced a total of 100,000 tons of various types of steel in 2003. He also indicated that in order to meet the demand for cut and bent steel bars for the construction industry, a new company was established to receive the drawings and details of steel requirements from the designers and contractors, then cutting and bending the steel to the exact specifications. Known as the "Jordan Steel Engineering Industries," the company enables the contractors to eliminate waste, improve profitability and reduce non-efficient work methods that cause errors and entail costs.


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