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Hamburg Port Consulting and partners initiate Beirut PortCity Dialogue platform

Hamburg Port Consulting and partners initiate Beirut PortCity Dialogue platform
The Beirut disaster highlighted the importance of dangerous goods protocols. Credit: LGBC

Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC) has initiated the Beirut PortCity Dialogue platform with its partners, aiming to enable transparent communication and discussion of central aspects of the Beirut PortCity development.

The devastating explosion at Beirut on August 4, 2020, severely damaged both the port and surrounding areas, resulting in more than 200 deaths and more than 6,500 injured.

Suheal Mahayni, managing director of the HPC, said: “This explosion left a deep and still bleeding wound in the Lebanese capital whose inhabitants are still living with the psychological, physical and economic consequences of the blast.”

In the months following the explosion, international emergency support was swiftly provided.

Combi Lift lead the effort to transport 59 containers containing highly hazardous material to Germany for specialised treatment and disposal.

“We are wholehearted with the people of Beirut and we want to support them so that they can rebuild the point and their city. With our proposal, we have put a tangible solution on the table that can now be discussed with all of Lebanon’s stakeholders,” Mahayni added.

In April 2021, HPC and Colliers, together with Fraunhofer IMW and the LGBC, presented a proposal that envisages a scheme for a path ahead – the modernisation and expansion of the port capacity, with the relocation of sections of the port from the city centre to vacant industrial zones.

As a result, unused areas could be transformed into a socially balanced re-urbanisation, reconnecting Beirut with the sea.

The re-urbanisation would provide the income to finance the entire project, helping to avoid new debt for Lebanon.

Mahayni added: “The Beirut PortCity Dialogue platform is an opportunity to discuss the proposed options publicly, transparently and with a focus on the public interest for the city and the country.

“The dialogue is open for anyone from the private sector, political and non-governmental organisations, as well as Lebanese individuals. Together, we want to develop a common understanding to rebuild the port, and the heritage damaged in the explosion.”

The Beirut PortCity platform provides transparency and an opportunity for participation for the Lebanese people, utilising the motto “Let’s make it work – feasible solutions for Beirut PortCity”, and inviting individuals as well as organisations and anyone who wants to support the redevelopment of the city.

Unlike standard international approach, the concept avoids any new debt of the Lebanese State by covering its own income through the European re-urbanisation.

The income has been calculated to cover the new port as much as the refurbishment of the heritage damaged by the blast and basic infrastructural needs.

Hermann Schnell, managing director of Colliers Germany, said: “Our proposal considers European best practice in urban development with a strong focus on social housing and social infrastructure. It pairs with a robust investment concept integrating clean international private capital.

“This will be a different concept of helping the Lebanese people to help themselves with their undisputed qualifications instead of typical charity and unrealistic loans. In this way, we will create a real positive momentum against the negative dynamic in which this great country currently finds itself.

Elias Philippe Assouad, president of the Lebanese German Business Council in Beirut, added: “This project is solely for the people of Lebanon. For so many years, we have been demanding reforms and not to further squeeze out or middle-class.

“This project now makes us have a real port again as the engine for a nation of traders. And it starts turning Beirut to become a liveable place for its citizens again.”

Already, the partners have engaged with many already for contributing their ideas and accommodating their concerns.

“With no hesitation, we will continue this path,” Assouad continued. “This project is for change in one of our country’s darkest hours – challenging few profiting today but allowing so many to build a dignified life again.”