Minister reveals plans to expand Beirut Port

14 June 2013

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Beirut’s caretaker Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi has unveiled plans to expand and modernize the Port of Beirut.

Aridi, who met senior officials at during his tour of the area, said he intends to increase the working hours of the port to speed up the clearance of the containers and official documents.

The Port of Beirut is the main port in Lebanon located on the eastern part of the Saint George Bay on Beirut's northern Mediterranean coast, west of the Beirut River. It is one of the largest and busiest ports on the Eastern Mediterranean.

Between 1996 and 2000, the port was rehabilitated to encompass four docks, two quays and a container terminal with 700,000 20-foot equivalent units per year capacity. The container terminal is equipped with five ship-to-shore gantry cranes with an outreach of 60 meters, and 10 rubber-tired gantry cranes.

HasanQraytem, the head of Beirut Port, said the number of containers had risen sharply over the past few days to 69,564 compared to 75,000 containers for the whole month of April.

"This activity has increased considerably over the past five months of this year, which caused congestion in the number of containers. We are now receiving 19,000 containers each day and this is causing us a problem because we can't clear these containers quickly," Qraytem explained.

He said the number of imported cars rose by 40,000 in the last five months, adding that the port was also receiving large quantities of cargo.

The official warned the port could not handle this pressure with its limited means and urged the authorities to provide more help.

Successive governments have promised to allocate more funds to Beirut Port in order to build more piers and warehouses, but none of these promises have yet materialized.

The Syrian war has made overland transportation of goods near impossible, with Beirut Port emerging as an alternative transshipment hub in the Eastern Mediterranean.