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King directs gov’t to implement recommendations of Dead Sea panel


The Jordan Times


 AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday received the final and comprehensive report of an independent committee set up to investigate the fatal incident of the Dead Sea's flashfloods, a Royal Court statement said.

During a meeting with the chairman and members of the committee at Al Husseiniya Palace, His Majesty directed Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to follow up on the conclusions and recommendations listed in the report, the statement added.
During the meeting, His Majesty affirmed that the report, which was also handed over to the government on Sunday, is of great importance, and that there would be a follow-up on the procedures to be taken in this regard by concerned agencies, according to the statement.
“Finding out the truth about the Dead Sea’s flashfloods incident is a very important matter to me,” His Majesty said upon listening to a briefing by the Chairman of the Committee Mohammad Raqqad.
The King expressed his appreciation for the chairman and members of the panel for their efforts, stressing the need for the government to study and implement the committee’s recommendations, the statement said. 
In its recommendations, the committee urged revisiting regulations governing school trips so that they “should take facts on the grounds into considerations”.
The committee also recommended better coordination between the various ministries’ apparatuses through electronic connectivity, especially with regard to schools’ violations, and to increase coordination between the directorates of education and the ministry headquarters in exceptional weather conditions, in order to grant powers to the directorates to suspend schools and cancel trips under such emergencies.
It also underlined the need for more effective coordination between the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Ministry of Interior and security apparatuses to determine the safe and appropriate locations for school trips during the first and second semester of the academic year.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and the security apparatuses should better cooperate to regulate school trips and activate oversight on them, and to prepare a clear mechanism for selecting the companies that are hired to manage such activities, the report concluded.
The committee urged the adoption of legislation regulating adventure tourism, including the selection criteria for appropriate locations for such activities, along with the requirements that should be met by travel agents and tour guides in this field.
The committee called for drawing distinct lines between the jurisdiction of administrative divisions so as to remove overlapping powers and activating the role of governors as chairpersons of the executive board and heads of the local civil defence committees in governorates. The officials, the report said, should be empowered to take precautionary and preventive procedures in emergencies.
The recommendations called for activating the role of the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management through establishing a clear cooperation mechanism with the Higher Council of Civil Defence and all concerned agencies.
The committee stressed the importance of improving the weather forecasting process so as to become more accurate and convincing, through applying modern technologies. Weather bulletins should be shared with authorities, the panel agreed.
The committee recommended the installation of flood’ measurement stations in all valleys, noting that there has been no such a station in place since 2003, which makes it difficult to estimate and monitor the dangers of floods in the valleys adjacent to the Dead Sea.
The committee recommended continuous monitoring and logging systems to measure rain storm intensity and record flood discharge, and to prepare a comprehensive survey of the Kingdom by creating digitised maps that highlight all hot spots in the Kingdom. 
The Jordanian Engineers Association (JEA) can help by monitoring the infrastructure projects, while the Jordanian Geologists Association (JGA) can be sought to study the geological environment surrounding vital installations, the report said.
For his part, Raqqad said that the committee held continuous meetings, listened to the official bodies concerned and eyewitnesses and was briefed on the report of the Lower House’s investigation committee, in addition to field inspection visits to the incident’s location and the Zarqa-Maeen Dam.
His Majesty directed the Prime Minister Omar Razzaz in November to set up an “impartial committee” to stand at the facts regarding the incident of the Dead Sea’s flashfloods, in which dozens, mainly students of a private school, lost their lives.
The committee included as members MP Abdul Monem Al Odat, JEA President Ahmad Zu’bi, President of the JGA Sakhr Nsoor, Ret. Maj. Gen. Abdul Jalil Maaytah, Ret. Maj. Gen. Judge Muhannad Hijazi and Momen Hadidi, in addition to Nael Omoush, Munther Azzeh and Zeyad Tahrawi as representatives of the victims’ families. Muath Zu’bi was appointed the committee’s rapporteur.
The meeting was attended by the Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi and the Adviser to the King and the Director of His Majesty’s Office Manar Dabbas.

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