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HomePoliticsLebanon PM Mikati Floats Plan to Reconstruct Beirut's Port

Lebanon PM Mikati Floats Plan to Reconstruct Beirut’s Port

Three and a half years after hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate ignited at the Beirut port, setting off one of the world’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, Lebanese and French officials put forward a plan for reconstruction of the port this month.

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Three and a half years after hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate ignited at the Beirut port, setting off one of the world’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, Lebanese and French officials put forward a plan for reconstruction of the port this month.

In 2020, an explosion at Beirut’s Port killed more than 200 people, injured and displaced thousands and devastated entire neighborhoods of the city.

Since then, a number of proposals that have been floated for reconstruction and redevelopment of the still-functioning port, including an ambitious plan suggested in 2021 by a group of German companies to redevelop the port alongside new commercial and residential developments.

This month, the French Government funded the development of the plan presented by two French engineering firms, Artelia and Egis. It will focus on rebuilding quays damaged in the explosion, reorganizing the port’s layout to streamline traffic, and shifting the facility to solar power. A French public agency, Expertise France, conducted an assessment with recommendations for improving security at the port.

Lebanon will need to come up with an estimated USD 60- 80 million to complete the reconstruction. The Port’s Director General Omar Itani says they plan on using the port’s revenues to help fund the build (which have been on the rise after a slump amid the COVID-19 pandemic) reaching USD 150 million in 2023.

The Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and French Ambassador to Lebanon also were also in attendance, along with representatives of the French companies.

Prime Minister Mikati says that France’s support for the reconstruction is both welcome and symbolic and referred to ties that go back to when the small Arab nation was a French protectorate after World War I until independence in 1943.

“Lebanon and France have strong historical relations that we are proud of. We consider France’s support to be particularly important because it represents the heart of the international community,” says Prime Minister Mikati.

According to France Ambassador Magro, help to rebuild the Beirut port is one of France’s “priorities in our support for Lebanon.”

“The Lebanese economy indeed needs a reconstructed, modernized and secure port of Beirut,” says Magro.

The plan however, is yet to address the fate of the port’s massive grain silos, which had absorbed much of the shock of the explosion, effectively shielding the western part of Beirut from the blast.

The Lebanese Government at one point planned to demolish the damaged silos but decided against it. A large portion of the silos collapsed in 2022, while the remaining section has been left in place.

In 2022, French shipping giant CMA CGM Group won a 10-year contract to run the container terminal at the port.

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