Lebanon’s Public Works and Transport Minister recently spoke about his country’s maritime transport sector growth. At the fourth annual conference of the Shipping Brokers Association, Ghazi Aridi commented that the general turmoil in the region overall has actually helped Lebanon’s growth in this area.
He noted that the situation in other countries is indeed regrettable, and that Lebanon is taking extra precaution to secure the safety and security of the maritime transportation sector. However, his main point was that the Beirut and Tripoli ports are undergoing timely and critical expansion in order to accommodate extra traffic.
Compared to other states in the Levant, Lebanon’s relative stability and proximity to major Middle Eastern markets has made it an obvious destination for international shipping vessels.
Specifically, the quickly-escalating situation in Syria has made that country’s key ports of Tartus and Latkia avoidable destinations for many vessels. This has caused a huge re-direction of traffic to Lebanon.
Aridi admitted that the decision to expand their ports was not a decisive one from within his country: “Before the regional developments, we took the decision and some people argued we were embarking on a reckless and challenging initiative. But today we realize the importance of those decisions.”
Thanks to expansion of the Tripoli port, Lebanon has already seen increased traffic from Turkey and other nations, and only expects things to increase. The second phase of the Tripoli improvements are under way, and soon the country will begin evaluating bids from companies who wish to take on the task of operating the expanded port.
Due to civil unrest and deadly clashes in Tripoli earlier this year, most of the companies that had expressed interest in applying for the job backed off. Now that the situation has settled and the improvements are on-schedule, Lebanon will likely re-open the competition and invite mofr companies.
While Lebanon is taking internal steps to support their own agricultural and industrial sectors, whether or not the efforts will succeed remains to be seen. Many within Lebanon believe that this port-expansion, combined with the country’s relative stability and prime geographic location, will allow the maritime transport sector to boom, carrying the country’s economy up with it.