Travel between Jordan and the West Bank went into first gear Tuesday as vehicles started using a new four-lane Japanese-built bridge that replaces the old wood and steel structure, officials said.
The new King Hussein Bridge with its dual carriageway and an eight-kilometer (five mile) approach road was built by Japan's Sumitomo construction firm with an 8.2-million-dinar ($11.5 million) grant from Japan. It spans 120 meters (130 yards) across the River Jordan to link Jordan with the West Bank and Israel.
It is located near the old bridge which had become too small and inadequate to handle the growing traffic between the east and west banks of the river. Located southwest of Amman, the original bridge — known as the Allenby Bridge to Israelis — was built early in the 20th century, destroyed during the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and rebuilt that same year.
According to official estimates the new bridge will be able to handle 12,000 vehicles per day.
Jordanian Public Works Minister Hosni Abu Ghida visited the bridge on Sunday along with Japanese Ambassador Shintaro Sasaki, with both stressing that the facility was a symbol of efforts to bolster peace and economy in the region.
"Peace will not be sustainable unless it is accompanied by appropriate economic exchange in the entire region, allowing free movement of people, goods and services," the ambassador said in statements to the press. Construction of the bridge began last July. — (AFP, Amman)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)