HPC Hamburg Port Consulting, the leading logistics consultancy for ports, sea and inland terminals, as well as intermodal rail transport, has initiated the "Beirut PortCity Dialogue" platform with its partners. The goal is transparent communication and the discussion of central aspects of the Beirut port and city development with all those interested in revitalising the harbour and devastated neighbouring districts.
After the devastating Beirut explosion on August 4th, 2020, Covid-19 pandemic, the nationwide financial crisis, rampened unemployment and political instability, the Lebanese people are facing hard times. The explosion severely damaged both the port and surrounding areas, triggering the loss of life to more than 200 souls, more than 6,500 injured and the destruction of thousands of homes. Furthermore, a lack of a comprehensive reform vision is calling for the development of an inclusive solution for all.
International emergency support were swiftly provided in the months following the explosion. Combi Lift led the effort to transport 59 containers containing highly hazardous material to Germany for specialised treatment and disposal. 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 of such a modernisation, unused areas could be transformed into a socially balanced re-urbanisation, reconnecting Beirut with the sea. This re-urbanisation would provide the income to finance the entire project. In this way, the concept avoids new debt for Lebanon.
"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. We are wholehearted with the people of Beirut and we want to support them so that they can rebuild their port 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," says Suheil Mahayni, Managing Director of HPC. "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."
Hermann Schnell, Managing Director of Colliers Germany and professor at the Flying Faculty GJU German-Jordanian University, says: “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.”
“This project is solely for the people of Lebanon,” says Elias Philippe Assouad, President of the Lebanese German Business Council in Beirut. “For so many years, we have been demanding reforms and not to further squeeze out our 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 livable place for its citizens again. We have engaged with many already for contributing their ideas and accommodating their concerns. With no hesitation, we will continue this path. 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.”
The Beirut PortCity platform provides transparency and an opportunity for participation for the Lebanese people. With the motto “Let’s make it work – feasible solutions for Beirut PortCity”, the initiators will invite individuals as well as organisations, and anyone who wants to support the redevelopment of the port and the city. Unlike the standard international approach, this concept avoids any new debt of the Lebanese State but covers its own income through its 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.
HPC and partners wish to provide long-term solutions to the Lebanese people, for them to rebuild a frame for becoming a self-sustaining nation again. Its development and execution will be based as much as possible on Lebanese expertise. The project is open to all parties committed to Lebanon and it is an integral part of the international community's efforts for Lebanon.
The dialogue website can be accessed here: www.beirut-portcity.org