Warehouse capacity is 40% of what it was © Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Warehouse capacity is 40% of what it was © Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut port blast warehouses will take a year to restore

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
1 September 2020

Import and export activities at the port of Beirut have returned to normal levels following the blast that destroyed much of the infrastructure and killed around 200 people, according to newly-appointed port director Bassem Al Qaisi.

Al Qaisi said they had resumed the loading and unloading of containers at the port but storage capacity was 40% of what it was prior to the explosion.

He said it would take a year for warehouses and storage areas to be fully operational after the 4 August blast.

Speaking to The National newspaper, he said: “We are in operation 100%. By this I mean loading and unloading containers and the import and export of containers and general cargo.

“The reason it will take a year is there is a lot of foreign aid and donations which will take some time. We also have to hire contractors to build warehouses and launch tenders.

“We are really focusing on putting the port back on its feet because there is a lot of damage on the logistics buildings in the free zone and administrative buildings.

“There are no warehouses for dry goods. We need a fire station and a water tank. Such issues take time.”

The blast, which injured thousands, was caused by a fire in a warehouse storing 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient in explosives.

Al Qaisi’s predecessor has been arrested as part of an investigation into the explosion.

Rene van der Plas, director of the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, visited the blast zone as part of support work and described it as “beyond imagination”.

A team from the Port of Rotterdam is working with the World Bank to assess the damage.

Speaking to Arabian Business van der Plas said: “What I saw is beyond imagination. The destruction is located 4-5km from the centre of the explosion and from my hotal room I could see the broken windows, demolished houses, sunken ships. Even my hotel was slightly damaged.”

He added: “I think it is very urgent to look for the best ways to improve the efficiency of the entire port logistics system and to review the master plan for this area, as well as to improve the port security.”

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