by Muath Freij and Omar Obeidat | Jan 07, 2013

AMMAN — Heavy rain on Monday clogged the tunnel under the Jubilee Circle in west Amman, causing traffic jams on Madina Al Munawwara Street, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) said.

Abdul Raouf Rawabdeh, GAM’s executive director for roads, said that GAM teams immediately were deployed to the tunnel and re-opened it after one hour.

Amjad Yassin, an employee at a private company located near the tunnel, witnessed the chaos caused by the flooding.

“I saw countless drivers forced to stop in the middle of the street and wait for the tunnel to open to traffic,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Rawabdeh noted that some cars broke down because of the heavy rain, aggravating traffic jams.

He noted that GAM teams were reopening drains that had been blocked by dirt or campaign posters, hundreds of which have been knocked from their moorings by strong winds.

“GAM has received 50 complaints [about weather damage]. We are working around the clock,” he told The Jordan Times.

Rawabdeh said that GAM would raise its emergency level on Tuesday evening in preparation for the expected snow.

The Public Security Department said on its Facebook page early Monday evening that all tunnels in Amman were open for traffic after concerned authorities cleared water from these tunnels.

Some Amman residents, however, expressed anger over the flooding and traffic jams, which they blamed on “obsolete” water infrastructure and neglect by municipal authorities.

Mohammad Masri, a resident of the western Amman neighbourhood of Khalda, criticised GAM for failing to provide the city with a decent drainage system.

“It is unacceptable that life in the capital was paralysed because of wet weather,” he said.

Masri added that this week’s rainstorms exposed the failure of GAM to upgrade what he called “antiquated” streets and water infrastructure, indicating that it took him over two hours to get home from work on Monday: a trip that takes 10 minutes in normal weather conditions.

“Many cars broke down because of the flooded streets,” added Khaled Jaber, who accused city officials of ignoring the capital’s infrastructure for years.

It has become common to see Amman streets flooded during heavy rain, he noted.