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French Version


Port of Beirut receives gantry cranes from China (Daily Star)

After a two-year wait, they must now turn their attention to hiring operators

On Monday, the Port of Beirut finally received the first shipment of gantry cranes it ordered two years ago, allowing it to start using the port's large yet unused container terminal and transform the entire harbor into a trans-shipment hub.
Bought from a Chinese firm, the new and sophisticated cranes cost the Port of Beirut $27 million.

Only three of the nine cranes ordered arrived on Monday. But when the six others turn up, they will definitely change the port's skyline with their imposing height.

The cranes, which are part of the port's modernization, can handle up to 500,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) per year. Still, the port has yet to assign an operator to operate them, nor have they prepared the tender process for attracting interested operators. According to sources, the port's director, Hassan Qoraitem, has received the green light from the Transport Ministry to allow the port to operate these cranes.

"Qoraitem has signed a contract with the Hamburg Port Authority to get technical assistance on how to use the computer system for the cranes," said head of the International Chambers of Shipping Elie Zakhour. "We welcome the arrival of these cranes, but we need to find suitable operators very soon," he added.

A port specialist who wished to remain anonymous said that it was very important to assign an operator to manage the container terminal and the cranes, since not only "would they be more professional than the port authority, but they would also successfully market Beirut's port as a trans-shipment hub through their extended relations with shipping firms."

However, the fact that the port has itself invested in buying the cranes could attract more operators since they would not have to invest in building cranes, as the Dubai Port Authority (DPA) planned to do two years ago, before pulling out of the 20-year FOO (furnish, operate, own) contract they had signed. "The operator that will run the terminal this time will not have to invest as much as the DPA was supposed to," Qoraitem said last year. "We are providing them with cranes and a building and are only asking them to provide the software and personnel," he added.

When The Daily Star attempted to contact the port, authorities refused to comment. Transport Minister Najib Mikati will hold a press conference on the issue this Tuesday.

Beirut 29-03-2004
Tark El Zein
The Daily Star



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