By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The government is currently evaluating proposals from companies interested in serving as the master developer of the Jordan Red Sea Project (JRSP), a water official said on Monday.

According to Adnan Zu’bi, Ministry of Water and Irrigation assistant secretary general and spokesperson, “scores” of prominent international companies have sent expression of interest documents to the ministry to partner in the project.

He noted that once the ministry concludes its evaluation of the proposals, it will send its feedback to the interested firms, stopping short of specifying a timetable for the evaluation process.

The $10 billion JRSP, to be implemented in five phases, aims at addressing the country’s severe water shortage by providing 120 million cubic metres (mcm) of water per year in its first phase and expanding to 700mcm annually in later phases.

Construction on the project, which will be carried out on a build-operate-transfer basis, is expected to be completed within 25-30 years, water officials previously said, noting that private sector companies will carry out the project with the support of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

The first phase entails conveying water from the Red Sea through pipelines to a desalination facility that will be built in Aqaba. Water generated from the plant will be distributed to Aqaba and development projects in the area.

The brine from the desalination plant will be discharged into the Dead Sea to curb the decline in its water level.

In conjunction with the water conveyance and treatment infrastructure, the JRSP will include a comprehensive economic development programme, which entails the planning and construction of multiple residential and commercial areas, industrial centres and resorts.