French shipping company wins Beirut port container contract

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Lebanon’s public works minister says a giant French shipping company won a 10-year contract to operate the container terminal at the port of Beirut which suffered extensive damage in a massive explosion in 2020

BEIRUT — A giant French shipping company has won a 10-year contract to manage the container terminal at the port of Beirut, which was destroyed by a massive explosion in 2020, Lebanon’s public works minister and the company announced on Thursday.

Minister Ali Hamie told reporters in Beirut that CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics, meets all the conditions to manage, operate and maintain the container terminal, adding that the deal will pay off for the coffers of the state “tens of millions of dollars”. ”

The August 4, 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut killed at least 216 people, according to official records, injured and maimed thousands, and devastated entire neighborhoods of the city.

It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history – the result of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate igniting after a fire started. The blast ripped through the city with such force that it sent a nationwide tremor that was heard and felt as far away as the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, more than 200 kilometers (180 miles) away.

The port remains wrecked, although partly functional.

The CMA CGM group said in a press release that operations will begin next month and will last 10 years, with a target of 1.4 million Twenty Equipment Units, or 20-foot containers. He added that the deal includes a $33 million investment plan to rebuild and modernize the terminal, including $19 million in the first two years.

“We will soon launch an ambitious investment plan that will transform the container terminal at the Port of Beirut into a state-of-the-art facility that meets the best international standards,” said CMA CGM CEO Rodolphe Saadé, a dual Lebanese-French citizen. .

CMA CGM, founded in Lebanon 43 years ago, already operates the container terminal of Lebanon’s second port, in the northern city of Tripoli.

Lebanon and France have historical ties and the tiny Arab nation was a French protectorate after World War I until independence in 1943.

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