By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Due to the “unprecedented water shortage” that has left scores of households parched for nearly a month, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation on Tuesday launched a call centre to receive water-related complaints.

People from across the Kingdom can now dial the customer service call centre’s toll free number 080022142 and direct their complaints to operators, who will refer them to concerned water directorates to resolve their problems, officials said yesterday.

“The call centre will identify the source and nature of the complaint and refer it to the concerned directorate to follow up. Under the new system, complaints must be addressed within 48 hours,” Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar said during a press conference to launch the call service yesterday.

The call centre service is part of several measures by the ministry to address a water crisis that has hit several governorates mainly Zarqa, Jerash and Ajloun, the minister said.

People in the northern governorates, where annual water per capita share is the lowest in the Kingdom, ranging between 70-80 cubic metres, have been complaining over the past month of water cuts and delays in the water distribution programme.

Najjar underscored that surging water demand caused by multiple heatwaves and the return of expatriates as well as unplanned power cuts have led to the water supply disruptions.

“Our main concern is supplying people with enough water,” Najjar underscored.

In an attempt to tackle the water crisis, the ministry is sending water tankers to households where the water distribution has been delayed and has banned ministry officials across the country from taking time off, he added.

The minister announced that due to the water crisis, directors of water departments across the country have been authorised to address water problem locally without having to refer first to the minister or secretary general.

In addition, the ministry is coordinating with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to direct electricity companies to avoid cutting electricity to areas where the ministry operates water pumping stations.

“A major factor in the water problem over the past two weeks has been power cuts which forced many pumping stations to shut down,” Najjar said, noting that the unplanned cuts disrupted the water distribution programme and caused water pumps to malfunction.

Meanwhile, Water Authority of Jordan Secretary General Munir Oweis said that with the ministry’s efforts and the seasonal departure of Jordanian expatriates, the water problem in the northern governorates is expected to be resolved within the next two weeks.

He added that various projects to establish wells and dams in the northern region will prevent similar water crises in the long-term.

“We are hopeful that the Mashtal Feisal project in Jerash will start operating in early September. The desalination of underground water will generate 300 cubic metres of water per hour,” Oweis said, pointing out that the project is expected to boost water supply in Jerash by 60 per cent.

The minister added that a tender will be floated in September for the six-million-cubic-metre Kufranjah Dam in Ajloun.
“Construction of the dam will take two-and a-half years. Once completed, the Kufranjah Dam will solve the water shortage in Jerash and Ajloun,” Najjar noted.

Source: Ministry of Water and Irrigation