Concerned ministries and apparatuses engaged Sunday in trying to comprehend the shutdown of Beirut’s port, following Tuesday's massive explosion that killed at least 154 people, injured 5,000 and smashed a swathe of the city.
In a meeting held one day after the explosion, the Supreme Defense Council decided to declare Beirut as a disaster city and to provide the Port of Tripoli to secure commercial operations from import and export.
The Port of Beirut is the largest shipping and clearing point in Lebanon, through which approximately 70% of the incoming and outgoing trade traffic to and from the country passes.
The port receives about 6 million tons of goods per year and welcomes around 3000 ships.
“The port needs three years to return to its previous state,” Mohammad Chamseddine, Policy and Research Specialist at Information International, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He said the initial scan of damages puts the cost of the damage over $3 billion.
“Imports will be transferred to the Tripoli port in the north of Lebanon and later to Sidon and Tyre in the south,” Chamseddine said, adding that transit trade with and through Syria would be greatly affected.
For his part, Tripoli Port's Director General Ahmad Tamer told Asharq Al-Awsat that the port is “ready to cover the shutdown of Beirut’s port.”
He said the government has spent $300 million on the port in the past 18 years, making it ready to handle urgent cases similar to the one Lebanon in currently passing through.
“The Tripoli port can handle the trade of 5 million tons of wheat and 300,000 containers,” Tamer said.
He explained that the port already receives 100,000 tons of wheat year pear while the Beirut port receives 800,000 tons, assuring the Lebanese that they will not suffer a wheat crisis.