The Port of Beirut (PoB) resumed partial operations on Monday with the first two containerships berthing in the container terminal after the explosion.
Out of 16 cranes at the container terminal, 12 are currently operational, said Raoul Nehme, caretaker Minister of Economy and Trade. He said that the port is gradually resuming operations to ensure the supply of all kinds of goods to citizens.
Bassem Al Kaissi, the new Director of the PoB, said that the container terminal will be fully operational by Friday. Al Kaissi said that 420 containers were unloaded on Monday. He said that the container terminal storage area has been cleaned up and restored to its state before the blast.
According to Sara Haidar, Terminal Manager at the Beirut Container Terminal Consortium (BCTC), the container terminal represents 80 percent of the overall cargo movement at the PoB.
The container terminal is located one kilometer away from the blast epicenter.
Elie Zakhour, Chairman of International Chamber of Navigation said that container vessels can dock at quay number 16.
According to Amer Al Kaissi, Chairman of Lebanese Forwarders Syndicate, shipping movement at the PoB had already plunged by 75 percent due to the economic crisis and has reached 15 percent following the blast.
He said the Customs have opened offices in the PoB’s warehouse number 14 which was partially damaged. The customs have become able to carry out the inspection of merchandise, he said.
Customs duties are being temporarily paid at the Rafic Hariri International Airport, Amer Al Kaissi said.
Heba Bawarshi, General Manager at Gezairi Shipping said the PoB is now handling only full containers as groupage consignment requires warehouses which don’t exist now.
Amer Al Kaissi said groupage, which represents 15 percent of shipments at the PoB, will be diverted to the Port of Tripoli until the rebuilding of warehouses at the PoB is completed.
The first two containerships to berth at the PoB after the blast are Electra (Gezairi Transport) and Nicolas Delmas (CMA CGM).
“We had diverted our containership Electra, which was carrying 400 containers, to Tripoli where we have a license to operate but we insisted to unload it in Beirut when we were told that the PoB has resumed operations,” Bawarshi said. “Another of our ships will berth on Wednesday as well,” she said.
The CMA CGM Group and CEVA Logistics said they are fully operational and ensuring business continuity to serve their customers. The Group has redeployed its employees in its two back-up sites in Beirut Digital District and reinforced its presence in Tripoli. Part of CMA CGM’s vessels has been temporarily directed to Tripoli.
Few shipping companies are authorized to operate in other ports such as Tripoli or Saida, Zakhour said.
BCTC, the Customs and the PoB’s authorities did their best to handle the clearing formalities despite the difficult working conditions, Bawarshi said.
Samih Al Zein, Sales Manager at Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) said their first vessel to berth at PoB after the explosion will enter the port this week. “The reopening of PoB was so quick and we didn’t have time to think about using the Port of Tripoli,” he said.
Bassem Al Kaissi said that the general cargo area will be fully operational on Wednesday both for imports and exports. This includes wheat and other grains as well as construction steel bars.
He said the cost of rebuilding the port is estimated at around $1 billion.
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