French Group CMA-CGM, a world leader in shipping and logistic has won the concession bid to manage, operate and maintain the Port of Beirut’s container terminal for a 10-year period starting next month.
The CMA CGM Group, which already has a strong presence in Lebanon, currently accounts for almost 55% of the container terminal’s volumes, since it has maintained its nine weekly calls and transshipment operations there.
Lebanon’s Minister of Transport and Public Works, Ali Hamieh, announced last week that the contract involves “reconstruction and expansion of the port infrastructure, which was devastated in the massive chemical explosion of 2020.”
The ambitious investment plan to renovate and modernize the terminal includes a US$ 33 million investment in the container terminal with an outlay of US$ 19 million over the first two years. The sum will be devoted to: A complete infrastructure upgrade: refurbishment, replacement, and acquisition of new port equipment; The construction of a new technical facility for maintenance and spare parts storage; A digital transformation of the terminal, by implementing the very latest management, optimization and interconnection systems between the operations and the various operators within the port’s community, and Environmental performance improvements, through the purchase of greener and eco-friendly equipment.
CMA CGM will use its own expertise and that of the previous operator’s teams in pursuit of its development goals for the terminal.
The CMA CGM Group, which was founded in Lebanon 43 years ago, is deeply linked to the Port of Beirut, which plays a vital economic role for the capital and the country. Following the full acquisition of the container terminal inside Tripoli port back in 2021, considered as the country’s second commercial port, CMA CGM has been strengthening its presence at Lebanon terminals.
The Group currently has interest in 52 port terminals across 33 countries via its subsidiaries CMA Terminals and Terminal Link (joint venture).
The port of Beirut suffered a massive explosion back in August 2020, which left more than 200 people killed, 6,000 injured, and 300,000 homeless. The disaster caused by the combustion of ammonium nitrate devastated parts of the city and aggravated the political and economic situation that has been plaguing the country for decades.
Following the explosion, letters sent to the Lebanese judiciary revealed that the head of customs service was aware of the presence of highly combustible items in port facilities. An investigation into the explosion not only exposed the degree of corruption in Lebanon but also that President Michel Aoun and then-acting Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, had been informed about the risks posed by such materials by security officials. However, both said they lacked the authority to intervene over the port .