IDB Funds Drive for $5bn Jordan Rail Project
|May 31, 2011||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
JEDDAH: The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) said that it was negotiating with a number of regional and international finance institutions including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank to mobilize funds for Jordan’s $5 billion mega railway project.
The railway, which is expected to change the region’s transportation pattern and boost trade between IDB member countries, will link Jordan with Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries as well as the European rail network.
“Bearing in mind the huge potential of this project, IDB has initiated negotiations with a number of regional and international finance institutions,” the bank said, adding that it would spur economic growth and job opportunities not only in Jordan but also other IDB member countries including those in Asia and Europe.
The IDB statement did not say how much it would contribute to the project.
According to informed sources, other financial institutions including EIB, AFD, JICA, World Bank, Arab Fund, Saudi Fund, Kuwait Fund and Abu Dhabi Fund have pledged $2.1 billion.
Jordan had requested lenders to submit letters of intent, confirming their participation in the project.
Jordanian officials said the 4.5-billion-dinar project would make freight movement faster and easier, cut transportation costs and boost trade.
The railway would link the Red Sea port of Aqaba with the Syrian border, through Amman and then the industrial city of Zarqa — the two largest cities in Jordan.
Extending some 1,600km, the railway would also link the Saudi and Iraqi borders with Jordan’s northern city of Irbid and the northeastern towns of Mafraq and Azraq.
There are currently two operating railways in Jordan, which covers an area of 92,300 sq km (35,600 square miles).
A 175-km line carries passengers twice a week between Amman and Damascus.
It is part of the part of the 1,300-km Hejaz Railway, which was built by the Ottomans in the 1900s to ferry pilgrims to Madinah and Makkah.
Jordan’s economic growth is highly dependent on an efficient transport system.
At present, it is relying heavily on road transport. To develop a reliable and cost-effective transport system, the government developed a mega railway program to connect major economic centers in Jordan with neighboring countries.
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