Audit Bureau asks Hamieh for info on controversial airport project
Lebanon’s Audit Bureau on Friday sent a memo to caretaker Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamieh, asking him for information about a project to construct a new terminal at the Rafik Hariri International Airport, following an uproar in the country over the issue.
In the memo, the Bureau asks Hamieh whether the public procurement law, the public-private partnership law and other laws have been respected. It also asks whether a public tender had been organized and whether structural, environmental and economic studies had been conducted.
The head of the Public Procurement Authority, Jean Elliyeh, meanwhile announced that “the airport tender file will be in the hands of the relevant inspection authorities at the beginning of next week.”
Elliyeh had recently announced that the Authority was not aware of how the project was contracted without a public tender.
According to media reports, the project has been contracted to an Irish company and a Saudi firm.
The project will cost $122 million and will be completed in four years, officials said Monday.
Lebanon’s only international airport had a major facelift after the country’s 1975-90 civil war and has been working at full capacity for years. The airport has not undergone an expansion since 1998.
Hamieh said Terminal 2 will bring in private sector investments worth $122 million and will handle 3.5 million passengers annually when operations begin in 2027.
“The project opens more horizons for air aviation between Lebanon and the world,” caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said. He added that it will help in solving several problems, including crowding at the current terminal.
The project will create 500 direct jobs and 2,000 related jobs, Hamieh said, adding that Terminal 2 will be for chartered and low-cost flights.
Hamieh said once Terminal 2 is ready it will be operated by leading European company daa International, an airport company in Ireland.
Ireland’s Minister of State James Browne attended Monday’s ceremony in Beirut and was quoted in a statement released by the Lebanese prime minister’s office as saying that the contract signed will deepen business relations between the two countries.
The airport currently handles 8 million passengers a year, and the plans are to reach 20 million in 2030, according to the website of national carrier Middle East Airlines.
"The project will create 500 direct jobs and 2,000 related jobs, Hamieh said, adding that Terminal 2 will be for chartered and low-cost flights."
... and all these jobs will be filled by shia as per Berri's wishes.
It is evident that Lebanon requires significant expansion of its existing airport and the construction of new terminals. However, the nation's financial resources are depleted, and it would be prudent to prioritize the reimbursement of bank depositors with the available 120 million dollars, rather than embarking on a new infrastructure project. Furthermore, the recent issuance of an illegitimate time zone decree pertaining to daylight saving is further indicative of the government's questionable decision-making, and raises concerns regarding their competence and credibility.