By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Work on a major part of the Disi Water Conveyance Project remains suspended for over a month now due to security concerns and recurring armed attacks targeting workers, a source involved in the implementation of the project said on Wednesday.

Work on the main part of the project, laying pipes on a 160-kilometre stretch between Mudawwara on the Jordanian-Saudi borders and Jafer, has been suspended, added the source, who requested anonymity.

Work in the southern region stopped temporarily after a shooting incident in late September targeted engineers working on the Disi project, the source said.

“Since then, we have been working with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and security agencies to come up with measures to end the attacks and harassment of our workers,” the source told The Jordan Times, noting that teams resumed their work on Monday but were again attacked by a group of people.

“Our engineers were shot at and our vehicles were targeted, therefore, we were forced to stop work again,” the source noted.

This was not the first incident to occur near the Disi project, according to project officials, who said that there have been several shooting incidents, including one in January that left two dead and others injured.

“The attacks are taking place because members of the local community are trying to impose their own terms and conditions… they want us to use all their equipment and vehicles and hire whomever they want, but this would go against the project requirements,” the source underscored.

The ministry and security agencies are currently formulating safety measures to protect project workers and prevent similar attacks in the future, according to the source.

“We suggested deploying security checkpoints near our site between Mudawwara and Jafer or mobilising patrols where security conditions are bad. We also proposed setting up a hotline for workers to inform the police about any attacks,” the source noted.

“The local community must understand that the Disi project is for Jordan and for the interest of Jordanians. If this situation continues, the project will not be delivered according to schedule,” the source said.

Being carried out on a build-operate-transfer basis, the Disi project is implemented by Turkish company GAMA. It seeks to provide the capital with 110 million cubic metres of water via pipeline, which will start at the ancient Disi aquifer in southern Jordan and end in Amman, passing through several water stations in Maan, Tafileh, Karak and Madaba.

Under the Disi project, which started in 2007 and is slated for completion in early 2013, 64 wells will be drilled, 55 of which will be used for the generation of water, while nine will serve as piezometer wells to measure the elevation of water.