Over the past few months upgrading works and construction financed by the Civil Administration have been carried out at the Allenby Bridge, with a view to improving the services provided at that location, making the procedures more efficient and cutting down the waiting time.
Date: 06.06.12 Author: Menachem Adoni
Allenby Bridge, which spans the Jordan River and is located about 5 kilometers east of the town of Jericho serves as a border crossing between Judea and Samaria, Israel and Jordan. The Bridge, which is administered by the Borders Authority of the Kingdom of Jordan on one side and the Israel Airports Authority on the other, processes on a daily basis hundreds of people crossing in both directions and constitutes the main “departure gate” of the Palestinian population on their way overseas. The Civil Administration retains a permanent representation at the Bridge and among its many functions it is charged with responsibility for resolving issues of documentation and population registration, quality of service for the travelers and for visitors to the Bridge and direct communication with Palestinians arriving at the crossing point.
“One feels changes for the better in terms of the procedure and processes that are taking less time then was the case in the past” stated Mr. Safardi Rushdi, a resident of Ramallah and a frequent visitor to the Bridge.
In addition to Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from Judea and Samaria and Jordan who cross the Bridge on a daily basis, there is a special crossing through the Allenby Bridge which is designated for goods and through which large quantities of goods cross every day on a back to back basis which includes: The passage of marble slabs from Judea and Samaria to Jordan, food products from Israel to Judea and Samaria, medications, fruit, sacks of sand, trees, electrical products and other supplies. The passage of goods constitutes an important and significant channel for economic support of the local Palestinians and an important artery for the export of goods, particularly agricultural, from Judea and Samaria to Jordan and thence to the world markets.
Following the decision of the Civil Administration, several months ago, to begin investing in the Allenby Bridge, several changes have occurred in all spheres.
Lampposts have been positioned at the access junction to the Bridge costing 1.5 million shekels and financed by the Civil Administration, this in order to raise the level of safety on the roads and at the same time with a view to the prevention of road accidents in the vicinity of the junction which in the past has led to traffic jams at the entrance to the crossing. Additionally, the seating in the waiting hall has been renovated, planning, assistance and financing of IAA , the lighting has been improved, the air conditioning system has been upgraded and a considerable amount of equipment has been provided in order to increase efficiency and enhance the comfort of travelers while waiting, for example: Plasma screens, drinking points, a buffet, toilets and restrooms and so forth….
“The policy that we are implementing in conjunction with the Airports Authority is an improvement in the provision of service to travelers, and because of this we are conducting an extensive renovation of the site with the object of reducing the waiting times in so far as is possible and make the crossing for travelers at the Bridge much easier” said the Bridge commander, Major Yoseph Hassan.
As part of the renovation and greater efficiency of the service for those crossing the Bridge, two vehicles have been introduced which are designated for the carriage of handicapped persons, the purpose being to assist those with disabilities who arrive at the Bridge to cross it in safety and in comfort.
There is an Israeli vehicle which is used at the Israeli side of the terminal and another (Jordanian) vehicle which is used at the Jordanian side of the terminal.
This summer, from the beginning of July and until September the summer holiday will begin in the schools and universities in the Palestinian Authority. At the Allenby Bridge this period is known as – “summer visits”. A feature of this period is the significant increase in the amount of movement of travelers in both directions leaving and entering at the Allenby Bridge, and on average approximately 11,000 travelers cross each day.
The month of Ramadan will occur this year during the “summer visits” period which is characterized by light movement of travelers, especially as a result of the fast and the high temperatures.
The Liaison Bureau at the Allenby Bridge in combination with all the Agencies working at the terminal, has made preparations ahead of time for this period of “summer visits” and is training the Civil Administration personnel and briefing all those engaged in the work of passage of travelers, the checkers and all those coming into contact with the Palestinian population with a view to the greater efficiency of processing and providing the service to passengers crossing the Bridge, all this so as to avoid delays in travelers crossing and facilitating their normal and speedy crossing through the Bridge in accordance with the procedures and instructions.