The Seventh Session of UNESCWA Committee on Transport convened today at the UN House, Beirut, under the auspices of Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transport Mohammed Safadi.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, UNESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy considered that attention to railroad, land and marine transport is a major factor in achieving development and cooperation for the sake of Arab regional integration. “Coupled with the challenges of globalization,” she said, “Regional integration in the Arab region has become a great necessity and the only way to activate and strengthen the regional and international role of Arab countries.” Tallawy said facilitating the movement of individuals, capital and goods is a means of improving economic development and raising people’s standard of living. “The national income in many countries has come to rely heavily on remittances from sea ports, airports, and railroad, land and marine transport movement. The future of this activity is continuously increasing,” she noted.
Tallawy enjoined those attending the Meeting to work together to assist the countries in fulfilling their commitments towards agreements so that they can become a reality. She asked them to review the steps planned or the programmes of work that were drawn up tin order to implement these agreements. Tallawy posed several questions during the course of her statement, including: “How do we encourage countries to answer UNESCWA questions to follow up implementation of the agreements? What are the problems standing in the way of implementing the commitments of thee countries in the agreements? Can we help find solutions? Wherein lies the role of national committees? Is there a need for this Committee to convene annually?” The Executive Secretary also highlighted the issue of traffic safety and of cooperating with other regional organizations.
For his part, Lebanese Transport Minister Mohammed Safadi acknowledged the achievements of the UNESCWA Committee on Transport in the areas of Road and Railway Transport and, lately, in Marine Transport, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Maritime Transport in the Arab Mashreq that was signed at the 23rd UNESCWA Ministerial Session in Damascus in May 2005. He pointed out that many common factors can be found between the topics raised at the 18th Session of the Arab Ministers of Transports in Damascus in November 2005 and the issues listed in the programme of work of the UNESCWA Committee on Transport. Safadi warned that “we cannot face the major challenges posed by globalization unless we adopt a sound methodology for building capacities to face challenges to social and economic development. This can be done by establishing joint frameworks capable of answering the needs of our region. We must recognize that the success of any joint effort hinges on the degree of commitment by all parties to provide the reasons for its continuity. We are confident that goodwill is present in all the member countries.”
Bahrain’s Deputy Transport Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa spoke of the steps taken by his government following the last session of the Transport Committee. They are: a royal decree approving Bahrain’s ratification of the Arab Mashreq International Railway Agreement; discussion by parliament of the Agreement on International Roads in the Arab Mashreq that is now before the Cabinet for approval pending its ratification by Bahrain; and a study of the technical and legal aspects of a Memorandum of Understanding on Marine Transport that will be submitted to the Cabinet upon completion; and forming a National Committee on Trade and Transport Facilitation.
The Seventh Session of UNESCWA Committee on Transport will continue until 19 April 2006. It is set to discuss major issues that concern the transport sector due to its importance and its direct impact on the economies of the countries in the region and to review progress made in the implementation of the International Road and Railways Agreements in the Arab Mashreq and ways to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Transport Cooperation in the Arab Mashreq at the local and regional levels as soon as possible. The Session will discuss the information system related to the Integrated Transport System in the Arab Mashreq as well as Road Traffic Safety. It will also review UNESCWA projects being implemented in transport and which are being funded by extra-budgetary resources.
All UNESCWA member countries (Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) have expressed a wish to attend this major event and will be dispatching representatives of ministries of transport and public works as well as specialists in road and rail transport and traffic safety. Representatives of concerned international and regional organizations will also be attending the meeting.
UNESCWA looks forward to following-up the implementation of the recommendations of the 6th Session on Transport held in Beirut on 22-24 March 2005 and to raising the issues it deems necessary to the 24th Ministerial Session to be held in Beirut from 8 to 11 May 2006. This is especially true of the draft resolution on the follow up of implementation of the Integrated Transport System in the Arab Mashreq (ITSAM) in all its aspects.
More information on the Committee can be obtained from the website:
www.escwa.org.lb/about/gov/committees/transport.asp or contact: Nabil Abu-Dargham, Information Officer, Tel: +961-1-978 894, Mobile: +961-3-428 438, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.