A French company obtains a contract to manage the container terminal of the port of Beirut | News

CMA CGM will manage, operate and maintain the Port of Beirut container terminal for the next decade.

Beirut, Lebanon – The Lebanese government has awarded the French company CMA CGM a contract to manage, operate and maintain the container terminal at the port of Beirut for the next decade.

Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamie confirmed the deal to Al Jazeera on Thursday.

Hamie did not give details on the terms of the contract, but CMA CGM said in a statement that they plan to invest $33 million to renovate the terminal, including purchasing new port equipment and building a new one. storage facility.

The announcement came some 18 months after 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer that had been stored in the port for years ignited, killing at least 218 people and injuring more than another 6,500.

“This project is a statement of our commitment to the reconstruction of Beirut and reinforces our position as a world leader in the terminal industry,” said Tanya Saadé Zeenny, CEO of CMA CGM, in a post on social media.

CMA CGM is run by the billionaire Franco-Lebanese Saadé family. The company last year acquired the container terminal at the port of Tripoli in northern Lebanon.

The August 4, 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut destroyed large parts of the Lebanese capital and continues to haunt the country. No official has yet been sentenced.

The blast also exacerbated Lebanon’s crippling economic crisis that has plunged more than three-quarters of its population into poverty.

Mariana Foudoulian, who lost her sister, Gaia, in the tragedy, is among many relatives of the victims who say the Lebanese government deliberately blocked the investigation into the explosion.

She says the government must allow the investigation to continue uninterrupted, rather than push for reconstruction and development projects at the port.

“They erase what they did to say, ‘OK, life goes on, we built a new port, and everything is fine,'” Foudoulian told Al Jazeera. “For us, this is not acceptable until the investigation is completed and all those responsible are punished for what they have done.”

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