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Once again and repeatedly; how to make Aqaba a hub port!

Oct 05,2021 - Last updated at Oct 05,2021

While international shipping rates became extremely high because of the global economic effect of the Corona-virus, still such unusual rates will hopefully return to normal in the near future. This chaotic situation is mainly due to the high demand of cargo versus global shipping container shortage.

However, the above temporary disruption of the global supply chain does not mean that we should stop thinking of improving our logistics in Jordan.

The recent conflicts in neighboring countries, such as Syria and Iraq, have led to the closure of their borders. This ongoing territorial and political fragmentation will certainly affect our economic position but still Jordan will continue in providing a secure corridor for trade with those neighbours and other surrounding countries.

At present, the development of Aqaba Port continues, whether as part of its expansion or the improvement of its services. Although such development is in the right track but uncomfortably would not reach the level of making Aqaba a hub port. The development of surrounding logistics is the key point so as to be able to distribute goods within the Kingdom and neighbouring countries.

In this regard, Jordan shall build a modern railway network linking the nation’s key cities with Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and most importantly Aqaba Port. Those nation’s key cities are: Ramtha, Irbid, Mafraq (including the supposed to be built — the commercial / military airport in the northeastern Mafraq Governorate), Zarqa, Madouneh (the new Amman), Amman,  Karak, Tafila, Ma’an (also Shidiya Mine). Such railway network will be the basic brick in connecting the region to Turkey and Europe, on one hand, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, on another hand.

In order for such railway network to be economically feasible and attracts local investors (such as banks and Social Security Investment Fund) and foreign investors (railway operating companies), it needs to be electric and transporting both cargo and passengers. It is estimated that the infrastructure of the railway network will be around USD 3 billion. 

The Jordanian government shall realise that the success of such railway network depends mainly on the multi agreements that Jordan at present shall enter with Iraq and Egypt, as well as Syria and Lebanon afterward. No economical booming could be reached without such multi agreements. Such agreements are reachable since Jordan, Egypt and Iraq are now in the process of making agreements concerning Iraqi oil-exporting and Egyptian electricity-exporting.

The writer is attorney at law and professor of maritime commercial law at the University of Jordan. He contributed the article to The Jordan Times

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