Water ministry officials referred to Public Prosecution over multi-million dinar tender

The Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC) Monday referred a case to the Public Prosecution in which the Ministry of Water and Irrigation awarded a JD14-million tender to a company to drill seven wells despite expert opinion that treating the water will be a “difficult” task.

An official source at the IACC said in a press statement that the JD14,864,582, was awarded despite expert studies and recommendations against implementing the tender because the water in these wells is “very hot and very salty” and contains alpha and beta radiation, ranging between 20 to 50 times above the standard of Jordanian drinking water, in addition to containing some levels of radium.

Investigations, the source added, revealed that a former Minister of Water, who had been a partner at the company that won the bid before assuming his post, floated the tender disregarding the results of a study conducted by a British expert, which warned of the level of the hot and salty water, as well as a report by technical experts at the Atomic Energy Commission, which also found that treating the water from these wells is hard and costly.

In 2017, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, under the minister at the time, issued the tender to which two companies responded; the one which eventually won it estimated the implementation at a cost of JD26.796,000, while the other put the cost at JD26,998,490, prompting the ministry to shelve the project. However, the bid was refloated in 2018 and the first company participated, but at an estimated cost of JD14,864,582.

The source pointed out that the ministry disregarded the legislation in force that obligates coordination with the Department of Lands and Survey and the Natural Resources Authority, which surveyed the area and concluded that uranium concentration in the area is very high. The Ministry also did not coordinate with the Atomic Energy Commission, as the entity responsible for the area under a previous cabinet decision.

The former Minister, who was not named, had spoken to the head of the Social Security Investment Fund to exploit the area for medical tourism due to the high temperature and mineral properties of its water.

Source: Jordan News Agency