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French Version

Sidon Port must be expanded and developed (Daily Star)

Increased commerical activity raises need for change
One of largest vessels to dock in recent years at the southern port highlighted the need to make changes to accommodate the growing business

A huge commercial ship unloaded a cargo of cars on the Sidon Port dock for the first time in about 20 years when Israeli occupation forces prohibited such imports.

Commercial activities of such ships were also hindered by the habit of shipping companies to use the Port of Tyre during the occupation years.

The docking of the ship Nicolas on Sunday raises the need to develop and expand the port as it cannot accommodate more than one large ship, not to mention the problematic shallow water depth.

The Greek ship Nicolas has a cargo exceeding 9,000 tons and a 21-member crew. It is 130 meters long, 22 meters wide and 14 meters high.

The ship is loaded with cars, marble, rocks and various other merchandise shipped by the Lebanese Navigation Agency and Seagull Shipping.

Nicolas succeeded in docking after five hours of strenuous effort to guide it toward the dock with two ropes. The ship was then tied to the Sidon island, which is 100 meters away, with a metal cable to prevent winds from pushing it away from the dock.

Nicolas' local shipping agent, Rashid Naqib, said the cargo included 300 cars and trucks worth more than $190 million from Italy, Switzerland and Germany. Naqib added that the cars are not older than six years. Two hundred cars were discharged as they are owned by local car dealers while the remaining 100 cars will be sent to Tartous, where they will be shipped by land to Iraq, he said.

According to Naqib, 2,000 tons of marble and rocks were also unloaded at the port while 2,500 tons will be shipped by land to Jordan through Tartous.

"It is the first time that ships loaded with cars entered the Sidon Port," he said, adding that in 1985, between three and five similar vessels docked here every month.

Naqib said docking such huge ships at the port will have a positive effect as it provides job opportunities, revives economic activity and expands the external transportation sector.

"The most important thing is for the world to know that Sidon is receiving huge ships again ... although docking is difficult," he said.

Naqib called for developing the dock and deepening it partially to ensure the continuity of work.

Sources said that the most encouraging factor of unloading cars at the port was that the shipping cost was cheaper than in other ports.

The sources added that shipping one car to Sidon costs $350, including the port fees, while it costs about $900 at other ports.

The sources said the transit fees prompt ships to unload their cargo in Tartous instead of the Sidon Port, although the Beirut, Tyre and Tripoli ports are exempted from the fee for 15 days.

The transit fee is $1 per ton for the first 15 days and $2 for every additional day, the sources added.

Beirut 04-05-2004
Mohammed Zaatari
The Daily Star

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