| 23 September 2021, Thursday |

A year after Beirut port blast, will the cranes stop operating?

A year after Beirut Port blast, and a year after the disaster, the main route for imports and exports is still suffering from the brunt of the catastrophe.

The Head of the International Chamber of Navigation in Beirut, Elie Zakhour, briefed Sawt Beirut International’s reporter Mahasen Morsel about what happened in the port last year.

“When the port exploded I thought that it was totally devastated,” Zakhour said. “I didn’t imagine what would happen to the people the next day, as there were foodstuffs inside a thousand containers, and if the blast had affected these commodities we would have lived today in a worse situation than we are in. If the explosion took place at 11 am, we would have seen thousands of martyrs,” he added.

Zakhour said that the crane accessories in the container terminal, which is used in case of malfunction, has been destroyed.

He pointed out that “the families of the victims, through the Head of Beirut Bar Association, have filed a lawsuit with the Urgent Matters Judge, and they held responsibility for Beirut Port and 76 merchants for the explosion. As a result, the judge decided to seize Port of Beirut revenues.”

There are 16 gantry cranes in the container terminal, of which 12 cranes were repaired after the explosion, but due to the heavy usage of these cranes eight were broke, and only four gantry cranes are operating efficiently.

“BCTC, the company that operates the container terminal, is unable to carry out the required maintenance of the gantry cranes, because the Lebanese banks have trapped its deposits, and prohibited it from transferring its money abroad,” Zakhour said. However, if the cranes remain inoperative and the container terminal disrupted, food security will be in danger.

The main fears downplayed today is that the vital role of the port will be completely disrupted due to the numerous problems stated by Zakhour. Will the solutions proposed for the port’s reconstruction through Bridge, Outsource, Transfer contracts be implemented, or the situation will steadfast?