Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Lebanon: Heavy Rain Causes Floods, Inundates Beirut

Lebanon: Heavy Rain Causes Floods, Inundates Beirut

Tuesday, 10 December, 2019 - 10:00
A car is stuck in a flooded tunnel in Beirut's southern suburb of Ouzai, Lebanon. AP Photo

Heavy rains flooded the streets of Beirut again this month, causing major roadblocks and traffic jams across the capital.

People on social media circulated dozens of photos and videos of areas completely inundated and some citizens using kayaks and surfboards to move after their cars were submerged in water and damaged.

Many Lebanese expressed their indignation at the renewal of these scenes at every rainstorm, blaming the turmoil on the mismanagement of the concerned ministries and state agencies.

The National News Agency (NNA) reported that heavy and torrential rains flooded the Jnah-Saint Simon area, where roads turned into rivers, and water entered homes and shops. Sewage was also mixed with the rainwater, the NNA said.

The neighborhoods of Ouzai, Hay el-Selloum, and Laylaki in Beirut’s southern suburb were heavily flooded, and the residents, through personal initiatives, opened some sewers to drain the water amid calls for the municipalities to intervene.

Torrents also submerged several offices at Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut, as well as the arrival and departure halls. Heavy water swamped the airport's external exit and entrance, impeding the movement of cars for some time.

In a news conference, Minister of Public Works and Transport Youssef Fenianos said he understood the suffering of the people and followed up all the road closures, and added that he was “ready to assume full responsibility.”

Fenianos cited difficulties of spending credits allocated to the ministry due to the financial crisis the country is going through.

On the other hand, he noted that the neighborhood of Ouzai fell outside the jurisdiction of his ministry, “but we are rushing to help so that citizens don’t drown in the water.” He explained that the ministry was responsible for main highways.

More than one ministry and institution exchanged accusations over the street flooding.

In this context, expert in public policies Dr. Ola Boutros pointed out that the best solution to avoid the recurrence of these scenes was to establish a supreme Transportation council.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, she said: “The issues of transportation, works, traffic, and vehicles are scattered among several ministries and bodies, including Public Works, Energy, Interior, Transport, the Council for Development and Reconstruction and municipalities. In addition, we lack a comprehensive policy in this field.”

She added that infrastructure was a second factor to be considered, noting that in some areas, it dated back to the French mandate.

“The presence of 1.5 million displaced Syrians exacerbates the pressure on this already worn out network, so every year we see this crisis repeating,” Boutros underlined.

Editor Picks