Prime Minister Najib Mikati affirmed that Beirut Port explosion was a horrible and painful moments in the country’s history, and its effects will not be easily erased with the passage of time.
The PM launched today the “national vision for ports, the master plan for Beirut port, and the new legal framework for the ports sector”, at the invitation of Minister of Works, Ali Hamieh, and in cooperation with the World Bank.
Mikati said: “Works to restore the port, rebuild it, and remove the dust of war, remains a national and economic priority. It’s our priority to give people hope and trust in the ability of this country to rise again, especially that this port is the most vital artery on the Mediterranean and to the brotherly depth, regardless of the priority of removing the features of the explosion and the devastation that followed.
The PM went on to explain that today’s meeting aimed to launch the first practical step in the project to restore and rebuild Beirut Port, through an agreement with the World Bank, and to prepare a study on the new legal identity of the Port of Beirut and its master plan.
This project, set with a deadline that ends next July, answers the basic question, what is the future role that we want for the port and its management, after the entire economic concept has changed in Lebanon and the world, and we are in the stage of rebuilding the economy again.”
He added: “We are preparing today for a new law for the port sector, including Beirut Port, in order to be an attraction factor for partnership with specialized companies, provided that the state remains the decision maker and has the final say in everything that will happen. We want the Port of Beirut to remain the beacon of this country and its first gateway, in cooperation and integration with all the Lebanese ports.
In his delivered speech, Saroj Kumar Jha, the Regional Director of the Mashreq Department (Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Iran), said that it was a wonderful stage to see Lebanon turning a past page towards a transparent and prosperous future by building a transparent and developed port sector.
“This is a strategic matter and provides tremendous opportunities for Lebanon to return as it used to be,” Kumar Jha added.
“I’ve worked through my responsibilities at the World Bank with Iran, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, and I always wondered why some countries failed? It became clear to me that any country fails, not because of culture, history, and geography. What differentiates between a prosperous country and a failing country is good governance and institutions,” maintained Kumar Jha.
“The process that we are launching today is related to the ports sector; it seeks finding a new law, a new vision, and the means to reconstruct Beirut Port. The best thing about it is new governance and open and transparent procedures. If we want to reform all sectors of ports, electricity, and water, there must be independent regulatory bodies,” Kumar Jha concluded.
In turn, the Minister of Works said: “The new legal framework of the port sector, which we are about to announce its semi-completion in cooperation with the World Bank, is, in our opinion, the pole of attraction – so to speak – for all the investments we look forward to in this facility,” the Minister said.
Hamieh went on to explain that the new framework notes the means to enhance activating investment in all public utilities, taking into account the principle of the partnership prospects between the public and private sectors.
“We are constantly keen on making sure that this never comes close to accepting the abandonment of state assets, in any way,” Hamieh added.
“We’re always thankful for the hand of unconditional foreign aid; no matter its size, it will definitely not be sufficient to resurrect Lebanon from its stagnation,” he added, noting that Lebanon will keep mainly relying on its people’s capabilities and energies “in order to cross again to the space of light, in which it has always been shining.”