Report: Beirut Port Official to Visit Bkirki over Controversial Basin

The head of the Beirut Port Authority Hassan Qoraytem is expected to visit Bkirki on Thursday to defend his decision to fill the controversial fourth basin at the port, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported.

The daily said Qoraytem will hold talks with Bishop Boulos Sayyah, who is expected to reiterate to the port official that Christian parties reject the filling of the basin.

The plan to fill it sparked controversy in December when the truckers syndicate went on strike over fears that the project would cause hundreds of Beirut Port employees, mostly truckers, to lose their jobs.

The syndicate claims that the filling of the basin would end the role of Beirut Port and would harm the economy.

The project will give more space to store containers. But there are fears that transforming the Port of Beirut into a transshipment hub would direct large vessels to the Port of Tripoli because the fourth basin will no longer be able to accept big cargo ships.

The truckers later ended their strike after Prime Minister Tammam Salam said the work to fill the basin would freeze until the issue was resolved.

Bkirki has again hosted a meeting for the Christian parties that reject the filling of the basin.

The representatives of the Free Patriotic Movement, Kataeb Party, the Lebanese Forces, Marada Movement and the Tashnag said in a statement that their stance from the issue has not changed.

According to al-Joumhouria, their statement was aimed at refuting claims that some of them had backed down from their position.

The objective of the meeting was also aimed at stressing that the work stoppage at the basin did not mean the issue has been resolved, said the daily.



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