The transportation system in Jordan comprised roads, railroads,
airports, and one port. Road quality varied widely, and newer
railroad lines were used primarily for transporting phosphates. One
national airline and two smaller airline companies served the
In 1989 the Jordanian road network, administered by the
Ministry of Transportation, was more than 7,500 kilometers long. Of
the total system, 5,500 kilometers were asphalted and the remainder
were composed of gravel and crushed stone. The backbone of the road
system was the 320-kilometer-long Desert Highway running from Amman
to Al Aqabah
fig. 9). A second major highway ran east to west
from Al Mafraq to the Iraqi border. Because these two highways were
also the two main parts of the transit trade route between the port
of Al Aqabah and Iraq, they often were congested by truck traffic.
Jordan's road construction plans focused on building ring roads,
bypasses, and overpasses in the vicinity of Amman, Al Aqabah, and
other major cities to divert this truck traffic and eliminate
The quality of the major traffic arteries varied greatly. Only
about 50 percent of the Desert Highway was more than two lanes
wide. A four-lane highway ran south from the Syrian border near Ar
Ramtha to Jarash, but the road between Jarash and Amman was winding
and narrow. Moreover, the common practice among freight companies
of grossly overloading their trucks had resulted in severe damage
to many stretches of road. This practice led in 1988 to increased
government enforcement of load limits and the imposition of
penalties that could effectively put companies that violated the
limits out of business.
The freight and trucking sector was overdeveloped in the 1980s.
Competition among many private freight companies and several large
government-owned entities led to price-cutting and excess capacity.
The Iraqi-Jordanian Land Transport Company (IJLTC) was the largest
of the government-owned freight companies. Established in 1980, in
1987 it carried 1.3 million tons of goods and almost 70,000
passengers between Al Aqabah and Iraq. In 1988 the IJLTC had a
fleet of about 900 trucks, 1,400 employees, and profits of over JD3
million. The Jordanian-Syrian Land Transport Company, established
in 1976, was smaller but organized along similar lines. In 1988
trucks made more than 13,000 trips between Al Aqabah and Baghdad,
of which Jordanian trucks made 7,500 trips.
In 1987 about 250,000 vehicles were registered in Jordan, an
increase from 60,000 vehicles ten years previously. This figure
included about 131,000 passenger cars, 13,000 taxis, 4,000 buses,
and 8,500 heavy trucks of various types.
Data as of December 1989