AMMAN — Construction work for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project will affect 82 out of 230 businesses in Tabarbour's Tareq area and cause some JD12 million in losses over the project's two-year duration, stakeholders claimed on Sunday.

Bilal Maswadeh, head of a committee of impacted traders of the BRT Project in the area, told The Jordan Times that construction in the area began after Eid Al Fitr on June 12, 2019 but the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) had not warned anyone prior to the work.

"If the municipality warned traders at least a couple months beforehand, losses could have been mitigated. Many have bought stocks assuming they will still be working normally, some gyms for example had their members demanding their subscription money back, and wedding halls are cancelling reservations because no one wants to have a wedding in a dug up street," Maswadeh said.

The traders had hoped that GAM would offer solutions to the problem, "but tender laws stipulate that when a company wins a tender, the area becomes theirs to manage... which means they [affected businesses] have no alternatives," Maswadeh said.

The 230 businesses employ around 1,400 people and the only option they have to mitigate losses is to lay off employees, Maswadeh said, noting that so far around 20 to 30 businesses in the area have completely shut down and moved elsewhere, while others are in danger of imprisonment because of financial dues.

There needs to be some sort of compensation, every project that damages anyone should have emergency reserves meant to compensate those impacted, the head of the committee said, noting that if no solutions are put on the table, the traders will be forced to take legal measures.

When asked how the losses were calculated, Maswadeh claimed that 82 out of the 230 businesses will not be able to open during construction. The 82 businesses conducted surveys to predict their annual losses for having to close down for two years, which were estimated at JD5,850,000 each year.

For their part, GAM issued a statement on Sunday, saying that communication was established with businesses in Tareq at the beginning of the project and an expanded meeting was held at the Amman Chamber of Commerce to discuss the project in detail and listen to their suggestions.

Project Director Riyad Kharabsheh said that the project in the Tareq area is one of the biggest in the Kingdom, with a cost of JD27 million, which includes building a tunnel to expedite traffic between Amman and Zarqa, and another tunnel between the Tareq and Basman areas.

GAM said that it had enlisted companies to move telecom, water and sewage lines outside the work area.

Much of the infrastructure in the area has existed for 50 years and there are no accurate blueprints, Kharabsheh said.

He added that GAM will consider any detours that could mitigate the impact on commercial activities in the area.

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