Lebanon awards contract for Beirut port container terminal, angering victim families
Lebanon has awarded France's CMA CGM a contract for the management, operation and maintenance of the container terminal in the port of Beirut for 10 years, Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamieh told Reuters on Thursday.
"The contract includes $33 million that will be paid by CMA CGM to develop the work inside the port," the minister announced, adding that $19,465,000 dollars will be spent from the full amount in the first two years of the contract.
Works are set to start next month.
They will include the complete modernisation of the terminal’s equipment, the construction of a new technical warehouse for the maintenance and storage of spare parts, digitalisation through applying the most advanced systems in the field of management, as well as improving and interconnection operations at the facility, according to a company statement.
CMA CGM is controlled by the French-Lebanese Saade family, and the group joined French President Emmanuel Macron in relief efforts in Beirut following the August 2020 explosion.
That blast killed more than 200 people and damaged entire neighbourhoods in the city, deepening Lebanon's worst ever economic crisis.
Thursday’s announcement drew anger from the Lebanese public, in particular the families of those who died in the explosion, who voiced their utter refusal that any works be carried out at the port before investigations are over.
A demonstration has been planned for Sunday outside the port, titled "No to the reconstruction of the port before the truth is revealed."
The investigative judge has faced major hurdles in the inquiry as several political parties obstruct his work, while many politicians suspected in the case have refused to attend court hearings.
(Reuters contributed to this article)