By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Security concerns in the southern Mudawara area, the main location of the strategic Disi Water Conveyance Project, are holding back progress in the vital scheme, according to sources involved in the implementation of the project.

They accused residents in the area of intimidating the workers, claiming that armed tribesmen “continue to roam around the project’s location in Mudawara and Dbeideb”, where 55 water production wells and nine piezometers (small-diameter observation wells used to measure the hydraulic head of groundwater in aquifers) are being drilled for conveying water to Amman by early 2013.

“Members of bedouin tribes come very close to the drilling site, fire shots in the air, and recently fired at a diesel tanker to scare us. They told us that next time they will shoot at us,” a source at the Disi project, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Jordan Times yesterday.

Work on the project at the drilling site in Mudawara, some 300 kilometres south of the capital and close to the Kingdom’s borders with Saudi Arabia, was halted for two weeks following the January 3 Maan riots, which erupted after two residents of the desert town hired by the Disi project were killed, allegedly at the hands of a member of a bedouin tribe in the area.

“Our employees, who come from different countries, fear for their lives… It’s impossible to work under such conditions for the coming two years,” the source said.

“I think the project will come to an end the next time such an incident occurs,” the source added.

He noted that police patrols at the project’s remote site in the middle of the desert are not enough, calling for a greater security presence to protect the project’s workers.

Despite repeated attempts to call Lt. Colonel Mohammad Khatib, spokesperson for the Public Security Department, he was not available to comment on the issue.

Ministry of Water and Irrigation Assistant Secretary General and Spokesperson Adnan Zu’bi said the threats and security troubles in the Mudawara area are caused by feuds over “services”.

“Apparently some tribes’ members want GAMA, [the Turkish company implementing the project], to rent water tankers from them instead of other people… to solve this problem renting water tankers will be divided between bedouins and people in Mudawara,” Zu’bi told The Jordan Times yesterday over phone.