Case Study: Aqaba
Aqaba, Jordan is undergoing an extensive development program where a modern port will coexist with tourist, residential, and commercial communities. Results from first phase activities, which included upgrading and relocating terminals and constructing a bypass road network to improve the port’s efficiency and ease congestion, initially were disappointing. Transport efficiencies were not being realized, and idling trucks clogged the city center.
The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority contracted NAFITH Logistics, a joint American-Jordanian company, to develop a Truck Control System (TCS) that would control and coordinate truck movements to and from the port. Deployed in 2006 and now operating under a PPP Agreement, the TCS oversees truck movements between 32 key locations around Aqaba and the terminals, utilizing web-accessible software to organize these processes. The system starts with requests for trip-specific truck entry permits and coordinates the subsequent movement of these trucks within the Aqaba Special Economic Zone which covers some 375km2.
The TCS has become a mission-critical system for the Jordanian logistics and trade communities, the port, Aqaba, and the nation. Inland shipping costs are estimated to be 20% lower than they would otherwise be. Over 25% more cargo now moves through the port than did in 2006 while the number of vehicles moving this cargo has remained the same. The system has simultaneously reduced congestion, traffic accidents, pollution, fuel consumption, and corruption. The higher utilization of transportation assets will in time prompt greater investment in the sector and bring about further improvements in many of these metrics.
A finalist for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s 2009 Best New Innovative Product or Service award, the NAFITH TCS shows that intelligent transportation systems can have enormous impact in developing economies and create a broad set of benefits. The system employs over 200 staff for its operations and has introduced information technology to the trucking sector and to its many users, most of whom had minimal experience in using computers of any sort. TCS may be an example of how IT can catalyze improved performance of freight transportation infrastructure at ports, inland transportation corridors, around city centers, and at border crossings across the developing world.
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