Within the past few weeks, Ayalon Highways has started to implement its part of the five-year plan for closing economic gaps between the Arab and Jewish populations of Israel. Under the plan, NIS 3 billion is allocated to transport, and of that, NIS 1 billion has been allocated to infrastructure and transport projects in Arab settlements in 2022, and a further NIS 1 billion for 2023. At this stage, the company is working on twenty projects at an aggregate cost of NIS 420 million. Most of the work will take between eight and eighteen months.
Yair Singer, VP Engineering at Ayalon Highways, says that rehabilitating the transport infrastructure in Arab towns and villages is “a difficult and complex national mission.” He says the projects given priority are those aimed at preventing danger to life, ensuring access to schools and public institutions, and enabling public transport vehicles to operate.
In the past, Singer says, the annual budget for projects of this kind amounted to NIS 150 million, and it has now grown to NIS 1 billion, which has accelerated execution of the work.
A report by the State Comptroller in 2019 sharply criticized the service provided in Arab settlements, pointing out the lack of a masterplan for development in non-Jewish settlements, the lack of criteria for an appropriate level of development, and gaps in investment. At the end of that year, a report by the Bank of Israel found that the gap in the provision of bus services had narrowed in the previous decade, but that the trend was not uniform: the quality of service in large Arab settlements, numbering over 20,000 residents, was found not to have improved since 2010, and in some variables examined by the bank the position had actually worsened.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on March 10, 2022.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.