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Gov’t ‘takes responsibility’ for customs incident

By JT - Oct 28,2015 - Last updated at Oct 28,2015

Labour Minister Nidal Katamine (2nd right standing), and Egyptian Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate affairs Nabila Makram (sitting) check on Wednesday on a man injured in an accident at the Amman Customs Department premises two days earlier (Petra photo)

AMMAN — The Lower House Integrity Committee on Wednesday held the government accountable for the fire incident that occurred at Jordan Customs Department/Amman branch earlier this week.  

A senior official said the government “takes full responsibility” for the “grave mistake”. 

At a meeting chaired by Deputy Mustafa Rawashdeh, to which several government officials were summoned, the committee discussed the different aspects of the fire incident, which claimed the lives of seven people and left several others wounded, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

The fire erupted after two fireworks containers exploded and casualties were workers at the customs yards, both Jordanians and Egyptians, according to the Civil Defence Department.

MP Mustafa Rawashdeh said the government is responsible for what happened, describing the regulations banning the importing of fireworks as inadequate.

He added that the government ignored recommendations made by the committee four months ago, following a visit to the Jordan Customs Department/Amman branch on the need to have the Amman customs yards relocated to Al Madonah area in the outskirts of the capital, as its current site is too congested.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister and acting Finance Minister Ibrahim Saif said the government takes full responsibility for the incident, describing it as a “grave mistake”. 

He told the committee that the government would work to rectify related legislation to avert such incidents and will work to move Amman customs premises to another site, as soon as possible. 

Amman’s Governor Khaled Abu Zeid said the Interior Ministry has been following up on the incident from the first moment of its occurrence.  

The ministry collected the names of all people who attempt to import fireworks to be summoned, he said, adding that the information he has indicates that importing fireworks is “totally forbidden, not just halted”.

Munther Assaf, director of the Jordan Customs Department (JCD), explained that the Customs Law does not include any provision that allows the department to destroy any kind of goods. It only allows re-exporting goods through legal measures, he said. 

The official explained that the fireworks containers entered Jordan through Aqaba Port after importers declared they included wooden tables.  They were part of a 14- container shipment, he said, adding that authorities discovered the fraud and referred the case to the JCD’s prosecutor general. 

At the end of the meeting, MPs stressed that fireworks-related regulations must be reviewed and that legal action should be taken against those responsible.  

In a related development, Labour Minister Nidal Katamine and Egyptian Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram on Wednesday visited the injured Egyptian guest workers in the Monday fire in the Abu Alanda area. 

The two ministers, accompanied by Egyptian Ambassador to Jordan Khaled Tharwat and Al Bashir Hospital Director Ahmad Qteitat checked on the condition of the injured and were briefed on the accident’s details and the medical services offered to them, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 


After the visit, Katamine said the families of those who died will receive compensation and the injured will receive their rights in accordance with the law and social security rules.

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