By Muath Freij

AMMAN – Around 50 young people on Wednesday held a demonstration on Queen Rania Street in protest against the suspension of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

The protesters brought along an “Express donkey”, symbolising the failure of the project, to the venue of the demonstration, a stretch of the street where a BRT lane was established under the first phase of the venture.

Earlier this month, the Cabinet decided to suspend the implementation of the project and halt all tenders floated for the scheme’s remaining phases until the required studies are completed.

A government committee entrusted with reviewing the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) project said Amman needs a specialised public transportation project like the BRT system, but set the completion of final feasibility plans as a condition for the resumption of the project.

The BRT entails operating premium, high-capacity buses on exclusive and segregated lanes that can carry more than 120 passengers and will run on a three-minute frequency during peak hours along Amman’s busiest corridors.

The project is financed through a JD166 million “long-term line of credit” provided by the French Development Agency to GAM.

Abdul Rahman Bilal, a University of Jordan student, said he was shocked when he heard that work on the project has been suspended.

“I was really glad when GAM announced the idea. Insufficient public transport is one of the main problems we face and we thought this issue would be resolved with the BRT,” he told The Jordan Times.

Hanin Alhamdi agreed, noting that that the road has now become narrower causing traffic jams which results in students missing some of their lectures and arriving home late.

“Before work began on the project, it took me 20 minutes from the Sports City Circle to Sweileh. Today it takes me more than one hour,” she explained.

Citing reports that the reason behind suspending the project was ineffective planning, a female participant who refused to reveal her name, said those behind the failure of the BRT must be held to account.

Bilal charged that the BRT issue is an example of corruption, voicing hope that GAM will resume work on the project in the near future so that his transport nightmare will be over forever.

22 September 2011