By Hana Namrouqa – Sep 21,2017

AMMAN — Work on a project to plant trees on the sideways of the Desert Highway that links the capital to the southern governorates has commenced, according to a government official.

The Ministry of Agriculture has started preparing lands for tree planting on both sides of the road in Maan Governorate, 220km south of Amman, and is also laying down foundations for water harvesting systems to ensure the trees’ irrigation, ministry’s spokesperson, Nimer Haddadin, said.

“Workers are now already preparing the lands for planting trees in Hassa and Qatraneh in Maan. A total of 400 dunums of lands along the Desert Highway will be planted under this phase,” Haddadin told The Jordan Times.

He underscored that the ministry’s nurseries will be providing the afforestation project with saplings of indigenous trees that can withstand dry climate, underlining that the water harvesting system that is being implemented seeks to sustain the irrigation of the trees in the future.

“The project seeks to increase the green cover, improve the aesthetics of the Desert Highway and also limit the movement of sand dunes and dust during windy weather that could affect traffic movement on the road,” Haddadin noted.

The project will also create job opportunities, he said, noting that all workers on the project are locals.

Extending from Amman to Aqaba through Karak, Tafileh and Maan, the road has witnessed several deadly car accidents over the past years.

The government launched earlier this week a $224 million-project to revamp the road that has cracks and wholes. The project is scheduled to finish within 22 months.

The project to revamp the Desert Highway stretches over 220 kilometres; starting at Queen Alia International Airport intersection and ending at Ras Al Naqab, north of Aqaba.

The Desert Highway is a vital route for the Kingdom, being the main highway leading to the Aqaba Port. It also connects Jordan with Saudi Arabia through Al Mudawwarah border crossing, and is being used by Hajj and umra pilgrims.

The project implementation will be divided into several work zones, with each being six to seven kilometres long.

Haddadin added that the afforestation of the Desert Highway is being implemented while taking into consideration the renovation of the road infrastructure.